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Thursday, 8 November 1973
Page: 1646

Senator WOOD (QUEENSLAND) - Does the Leader of the Government in the Senate not consider that the confiscation of 2 Taiwanese fishing vessels is a very harsh penalty to impose in view of his generous treatment regarding the fines of the Taiwanese fishing captains? Will he consider extending that generosity to the release of those fishing vessels?

Senator MURPHY -The penalty was imposed in each case by the appropriate court of law. There was an appeal in each case. In the case of the individuals, of course, there was a lengthy term of imprisonment as an alternative to the payment of the fines with some suggestion that no payment would be forthcoming for the fines. The High Court in a judgment issued earlier this year referred to the very great importance of the laws protecting the territorial waters of Australia and the necessity which had been found by most countries to apply penalties such as forfeiture in order to insist upon their sovereignty. Now that the honourable senator has raised the matter I will look into it, although I may say that once the vessels have been forfeited they become the property of the Commonwealth. I am not altogether sure that this is a matter that comes within the scope of the Attorney-General. It may not be. This may be a matter for some governmental action outside of the prerogative which is within the sphere of the Attorney-General. However, I will look into this matter for the honourable senator.

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