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Thursday, 25 October 1973
Page: 2670

Mr DAVIES (BRADDON, TASMANIA) - My question which is directed to the Minister for Transport refers to the vessel 'Blythe Star'. Is the Minister aware that some of the survivors have indicated that Japanese fishing trawlers fishing inside territorial waters ignored their rescue flares and fled when the survivors fired off their last rockets? Is the Minister in a position to report to the House on this matter? Will he have an immediate inquiry made because, if the allegation is correct, such behaviour is beyond all the rules of the sea, apart from the humanitarian considerations?

Mr CHARLES JONES - I have not personally seen a report of the allegation referred to by the honourable member for Braddon, but I am led to believe that there is a statement in one of the Hobart newspapers this morning to the effect that survivors of the disaster did fire flares to try to attract the attention of Japanese fishing boats which were illegally fishing in territorial waters. If this is true then it certainly will be taken up with the Japanese authorities. It is a well known fact that foreign fishing boats do fish in Australian waters. I know from personal experience off the North Coast of New South Wales that they do fish there, they do pinch Australian fishermen's catches and they cut their lines adrift. These are the types of things they do. As far as I am concerned, now that the matter has been brought to our attention, it will be followed up. In fact, following on advice received of what was in the newspaper, I have asked my Department to make urgent inquiries into whether the reports are correct or not.

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