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Thursday, 2 November 1967

Mr ROBINSON (Cowper) (2:53 AM) - I want very briefly to support the motion. I am particularly interested in the fishing fleets which operate off the coast of New South Wales and produce a tremendous amount of fish and prawn products each year. This is a timely measure. It is one which accords with Australia's desire to fulfil its obligations in the nation's own interests but also having regard to and in accordance with international law. Whilst there is great justification for believing that we need to think of how we should police the additional rights which flow from this Bill, the fundamental thing is that by virtue of this legislation we are creating the power and the right to have jurisdiction over the area extending 12 miles from the Australian shore. This is a great step forward and one that will be welcomed not only by the fishing interests bus also by all who are in any way connected with this great industry. It is nothing new that problems of the sort that have been mentioned in this debate should arise around the Australian coastline because this has been the experience of many other countries. I have discussd this matter with people at government level and at industry level in several other countries and I have found that their problems are quite similar to those that we have heard mentioned in this debate. There is nothing new about fishing fleets of a nation operating well away from the particular sphere of activities of that nation. This has occurred in United Kingdom waters. United States waters, Canadian waters and we have had the problem here in what we regard as Australian waters.

However, this Bill will give us the basis to ensure that firstly we have the jurisdiction legally to deal with a serious problem when ships from other nations come in close to our shore to catch fish, prawns and the like. But we must realise that our own capacity has not yet been developed to deal with the broader aspect of fishing on the high seas or fishing at large, so to speak. Undoubtedly this will come. I believe that by virtue of the provision of a 12-mile limit we will find that our own fishing fleets will tend to make greater use of this right and accordingly the impact will be such that infiltration, if I can use that term, will tend to lessen. In the light of this development it would then be timely to deal with the question of any other policing that may become necessary.

New Zealand has carried out a certain amount of naval patrol. This was done as a result of discussions between the New Zealand Government and the Japanese Government. Undoubtedly similar action could be taken here in due course when we have established our rights in this particular regard. I feel that it is unnecessary to canvass aspects of the fishing industry which have been so well referred to by other honourable members in this debate. On behalf of the industry in northern New South Wales in particular. I want to thank the Government for this legislation. I commend the Bill before the House.

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