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Wednesday, 10 May 1989
Page: 2181


Senator TATE —Yesterday during Question Time Senator Hill asked Senator Bolkus, as the Minister representing me in my absence, about the missing yacht Patanela and what the Australian Federal Police (AFP) and other Federal authorities were doing about it. I am aware of concerns regarding attempts by State and Commonwealth authorities to locate the yacht Patanela and its crew. I can only comment on Commonwealth actions in this case.

In November 1988 the yacht Patanela was reported missing off the coast of New South Wales. I am informed that the sea safety branch of the Department of Transport and Communications notified Interpol in November 1988 indicating that relevant authorities in Papua New Guinea, Fiji and New Caledonia had been informed that the yacht was missing. The AFP was subsequently informed that the yacht was missing. Of course, the AFP has neither the jurisdiction nor a capacity to mount searches for missing vessels. Its responsibility in such cases is to determine whether there has been a breach of Commonwealth law. In that regard the AFP has undertaken extensive inquiries throughout Australia and overseas in an effort to establish the vessel's movements and in particular to determine whether the vessel is still afloat and its crew alive. Those inquiries are continuing, but the AFP advises that in the circumstances it is concerned for the welfare of the crew.

In addition the Interpol Secretariat has advised all member nations of the disappearance of the vessel and requested that they maintain a watch for it. Full descriptions and photographs of the vessel have been forwarded as part of this request. I have been in contact with one of Senator Hill's House of Representatives colleagues-I cannot recall his name at the moment-who has also been in correspondence with me on this issue. Perhaps I could make that file of correspondence available to Senator Hill.