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Thursday, 8 November 1973
Page: 1659

Senator Douglas McClelland (NEW SOUTH WALES) (Minister for the Media) -I move:

That the Bill be now read a second time.

The purpose of this Bill is to amend certain of the machinery provisions of the Continental Shelf (Living Natural Resources) Act to ensure more effective administration of the legislation and, in conjunction with amendments proposed in the Fisheries Bill which I have just introduced, to bring the principles embodied in the 2 Acts into uniformity. Where appropriate, identical definitions and provisions have been introduced. As honourable senators are aware, the main purpose of the Continental Shelf (Living Natural Resources) Act is to enable the fullest possible protection to be given to the living resources of the continental shelf of Australia and the external territories, including the Great Barrier Reef. Such control is in accordance with international law as expressed in the 1958 Convention on the Continental Shelf.

Clause 4 recognises changes in portfolio responsibilities in respect of certain island territories by including them within Australia. It provides similar definitions of 'Australian ship' and foreign ship' to those in the Fisheries Bill which I have just introduced. Clause 6 gives effect to the principle that an official on whom statutory powers are conferred should exercise those powers in accordance with directions given by the Minister. It also takes a further step in the transfer of power to Papua New Guinea by enabling the Minister for External Territories to delegate his powers under this Act to the appropriate Minister in the Papua New Guinea Government who may exercise those powers independently. Clause 8 empowers the Minister to close an area to the taking of a specified sedentary organism except by persons or by the use of boats with licences endorsed to permit the taking of that sedentary organism in that area. These provisions will enable effective effort-control programs to be undertaken where necessary, especially in the case of removal of live coral from the Great Barrier Reef, and of the taking of abalone.

Clause 9 empowers the placing of endorsements on licences to authorise the holders to take sedentary organisms in effort-controlled situations. As in the case of the Fisheries Bill, this Bill contains provisions which enable Commonwealth and State licences to be combined. Clause 10 provides for the cancellation or suspension of licences in exactly the same way as does the Fisheries Bill. Clause 1 1 re-defines the offences in relation to the use of unlicensed foreign ships to search for and take sedentary organisms. Clause 12 deems an act done by an employee or agent of a person charged with contravention of a notice under the principal Act to have been done by the person charged. As in the case of the similar provisions in the Fisheries Bill, while the person who committed the contravention remains personally liable, the Bill, by extending liability to the master or owner of the ship, clears the way for the courts to order forfeiture if considered appropriate. Clause 13 contains identical provisions to clause 1 1 of the Fisheries Bill.

The provisions in clauses 14 and IS of the Bill are similar to those in clause 10 of the Fisheries Bill in relation to forfeiture penalties in cases involving foreign ships. Clause 16 provides similar evidentiary machinery to that in clause 13 of the Fisheries Bill. Clause 17 embodies the new principle, that a foreign boat used or involved in the commission of an offence is automatically forfeit to Australia. I have dealt with this principle at length in the second reading speech on the Fisheries Bill. Those remarks apply in this case also. Clause 20 applies the provisions relating to forfeiture of foreign boats retroactively. That is, if a foreign vessel is apprehended infringing the Act and is under the control of an officer at the time the Bill receives royal assent, it is at that time forfeited.

The clauses to which I have not referred deal with formal and machinery amendments for the effective administration of the Act. Because the provisions of this Bill are for practical purposes identical with many of the provisions of the Fisheries Bill, the Senate may consider it appropriate to debate them together. I commend this Bill to honourable senators.

Debate (on motion by Senator Laucke) adjourned.

Sitting suspended from 12.57 to 2 p.m.

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