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Watson no sleuth with elementary details.

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Watson no sleuth with elementary details

DAFF04/005M 12 January 2004

Australian Fisheries Minister Senator Ian Macdonald has questioned the motives of a Labor Member from Western Australia after he accused the Australian Government of overlooking Albany as the home of the new Southern Ocean fishery patrol base before a decision has been finalised.

Member for Albany Peter Watson has issued a media statement accusing Senator Macdonald of publicly stating Fremantle was the Government's preferred base for Southern Ocean patrols.

"I am absolutely mystified where Mr Watson has obtained his information but I can assure him he that is wrong, as no decision regarding a base has been made," Senator Macdonald said.

"I am delighted the Australian Government has made the decision to spend $40-50 million annually on a permanent patrol vessel to protect the Southern Oceans.

"The base for the patrol boat will be decided based on the operational needs of the Australian Customs Service and the post apprehension needs of the Australian Fisheries Management Authority.

"I don't believe that politicians should get too involved in operational matters that are the responsibility of professional Coastwatch and Customs officers.

"But all things being equal, as a supporter of regional Australia, I would prefer a regional base - but again I emphasise this is an operational decision to be made by those best equipped to make them.

"I would also suggest Mr Watson should take his own advice about toppling ignorance about Western Australia, and learn who the Senators are from his State.

"While I am very proud of my Government's achievements in Western Australia and have made many trips west in the past year, I am in fact a Queensland Senator and not from Mr Watson's home state, as his release states."

Further inquiries:

Senator Macdonald's office: David Crisafulli (02) 6277 7270or 0400 144 483