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Tuesday, 11 February 1986
Page: 139

(Question No. 735)


Senator Knowles asked the Minister representing the Minister for Transport, upon notice, on 28 November 1985:

(1) Is the Fremantle Port area between latitude 31.46S-32.04S and longitude 115.34E-115.44E, within the limits of the Australian Territorial Sea; if not, how is this area designated.

(2) Is Australia a signatory to the:

(a) International Convention of Safety of Life at Sea (1974);

(b) United Nations Convention of the Territorial Sea and Contiguous Zone; and

(c) International Association of Lighthouse Authorities (IALA) through the International Maritime Organization (IMO).

(3) Are the following sentences contained in the documents listed in Question 2 and/or the Acts covering these conventions:

(a) Safety of Life at Sea 1974: (i) each contracting Government will take all steps necessary to ensure that when intelligence of any of the dangers specified in paragraph (a) of this regulation is received, it will be promptly brought to the knowledge of those concerned;

(b) Seas and Submerged Lands Act 1973 (UN Convention of Territorial Sea and Contiguous Zone: (ii) the Coastal State is required to give appropriate publicity to any dangers to navigation of which it has knowledge within its territorial sea; and

(c) IALA: (iii) confirmation that the buoyage changes in specific areas have been carried out will normally be announced in radio navigational warnings and in notice to mariners.

(4) Is it the responsibility of the Minister for Transport through his Departmental Federal Sea Surveillance and Safety Centre to authorise such warnings to all concerned; if not, why not.

(5) Does the Minister through his Department believe that due to a letter from Prime Minister, Mr J. A. Lyons to the States dated 3 July, 1934, coded AK 3/10/2, which makes no mention of radio warnings or the responsibility of warning all concerned of dangers, etc., as do the Acts and Conventions mentioned in Questions 2 and 3 that the Department of Transport is relieved from sending out warnings to all those concerned.

(6) Does the Minister deny his responsibility under the following Acts: Coastal Waters (State Title) Act 1980 and Coastal Waters (State Powers) Act 1980 which clearly state that all responsibility for international agreements are retained by the Commonwealth.


Senator Gietzelt —The Minister for Transport has provided the following answer to the honourable senator's question:

(1) No. The Department of Marine and Harbours, Western Australia, advises that the Port of Fremantle includes inner and outer harbours and the respective water area.

The inner harbour is all that situated within the mouth of the Swan River extending from a line at the western extremity of the north and south moles to the western alignment of the Fremantle traffic bridge.

The outer harbour is bounded by a line starting at a point on the sea coast of the mainland in latitude 31*56'22''S thence extending northwesterly on a true bearing of 341 degrees to the intersection of latitude 31*46'S thence due west to intersect the meridian of longitude 115*30'E thence due south to intersect latitude 31*57'S thence due east to intersect the meridian of longitude 115*34'E thence southerly to latitude 32*04'S thence south easterly to Entrance Point, Garden Island, thence along the high water mark of the northern, eastern and southern shores of that island to South West Point. Thence southerly to John Point on the mainland. Thence easterly and northerly along the high water mark to the eastern extremity of the South Mole (excluding the Fremantle Fishing Boat harbour), thence along the southern side of the South Mole to the latter's western extremity, then west north westerly to the western extremity of the mole, thence along the northern side of the north mole to the latter's eastern extremity at the high water mark of such ocean and then northerly along that mark to the starting point.

A small segment of the south westerly waters of the outer harbour lie within the Australian territorial sea. Of the waters north of latitude 31*56'22''S some are within the territorial sea and others in areas of high seas.

(2) (a) Yes. Australia acceded to the International Convention of Safety of Life at Sea on 17 August 1983.

(b) Yes. Australia acceded to the International Convention of the Territorial Sea and Contiguous Zone on 14 May 1963.

(c) No. Australia, through the Federal Department of Transport, is a member of the International Association of Lighthouse Authorities which is a non-Government consultative body.

Australia is a member of the International Maritime Organization (IMO) having acceded to the Convention of the Inter-Governmental Maritime Consultative Organization (as it was then known) on 13 February 1952.

(3) (a) Yes.

(b) Yes. However this does not prevent co-operative arrangements between the States and the Commonwealth concerning the implementation of this provision.

(c) No document containing the sentence quoted has been identified by the Department of Transport.

(4) The Minister for Transport through his Departmental Federal Sea Safety and Surveillance Centre authorises warnings of dangers to navigation which relate to those areas for which the Federal Government accepts responsibility as part of a shared responsibility with the States and Territories for the provision of marine navigational aids.

(5) Yes. The Department of Transport is only required to send out warnings of dangers to navigation in relation to those parts of the shared responsibility for which the Commonwealth is responsible.

(6) The Coastal Waters (State Title) Act 1980 and the Coastal Waters (State Powers) Act 1980 assign no specific ministerial responsibility.

Section 6 of both Acts states, Nothing in this Act affects the status of the territorial sea of Australia under international law or the rights and duties of the Commonwealth in relation to ensuring the observance, in relation to that sea or any other waters, of international law, including the provisions of international agreements binding on the Commonwealth and, in particular the provisions of the Convention on the Territorial Sea and the Contiguous Zone relating to the right of innocent passage of ships.

This provision does not prevent co-operative arrangements between the States and the Commonwealth concerning implementation of international maritime agreements.