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Tuesday, 15 November 1983
Page: 2660

Mr HOLLIS —Is the Minister for Defence aware of conflict which has arisen between the Royal Australian Navy and the tuna fleet working off the south coast of New South Wales near Nowra? Can he advise the House what steps are being taken to overcome this conflict?

Mr SCHOLES —I am aware of the problem to which the honourable gentleman refers, mainly because he has mentioned it to me on a number of occasions, as have the Minister for Primary Industry and the honourable member for Eden-Monaro.

There was a recent incident in which a tuna fishing spotter aircraft alleged that it was unable to establish radio communications with the naval vessels concerned. As a direct result of this incident the fleet commander has drawn the attention of ships' commanding officers to the need to extend maximum co- operation to this important industry. For some time now, commanding officers have been under instruction to give clearance to spotter aircraft and tuna boats to enter any unused section of restricted area under their control, provided it is safe to do so. The matter is currently the subject of a number of telexes and the fleet commander will be having discussions with those involved at an early date.