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Tuesday, 17 September 1974
Page: 1111

Senator DEVITT (TASMANIA) - Can the Minister for Customs and Excise indicate to the Senate what stage has now been reached in the establishment of an Australian coastguard? Will it be possible to accommodate my earlier suggestion that recognised yachting and boating organisations, acting on a voluntary basis, be integrated into the search and rescue functions of the proposed coastguard? Will he favourably consider locating elements of the service on the northern Tasmanian coastline for operation in the waters of Bass Strait?

Senator MURPHY - This is a complex matter and the complexity of it may be judged from the number of Government departments that are concerned with this area. The Department of Customs and Excise, the Department of Health and the Department of Transport and other departments have discussed this matter for quite a long period. As a matter of fact, it has been a very vexing problem. I will try to deal with the problem broadly. It has been determined that law enforcement functions would be carried out by close co-operation between the defence forces and other departments with law enforcement functions, particularly the Department of Customs and Excise. There is a marine operations centre which is in the Department of Transport and which looks after sea and other rescues. It may well be that the suggestion of the honourable senator could be taken up and that private persons with yachts and so forth will be able to give assistance through the operations of that centre. I understand that it is done on an ad hoc basis but I think the honourable senator wants it to be placed on a more permanent basis. I will pass his suggestion to the Minister for Transport.

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