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Bungled surveillance shows need for Coastguard.

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Robert McClelland MP Shadow Minister for Justice and Community Security

Nicola Roxon MP

Shadow Minister for Population and Immigration

3 July 2003

Bungled surveillance shows need for Coastguard

The Howard Government’s bungling of coastal surveillance shows the need for Labor’s plan for an Australian Coastguard.

According to reports today, the Howard Government knew last month of an impending unauthorised boat arrival, but failed to provide coastal authorities with sufficient resources to search two known possible routes.

The boat was reportedly allowed to come as close as ten minutes from the Australian mainland, exposing the Howard Government’s claims to have secured Australia’s borders as a myth.

Yesterday’s weak denials by Howard Government Ministers raise more questions than they answer about this clear failure of coastal surveillance.

The surveillance failure comes shortly after the Howard Government was caught out secretly cutting back border patrols under Operation Relex.

For this boat to remain undetected until it was so close to the mainland shows that Australia needs Labor’s plan for a Coastguard - a cop on the beat 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

Labor’s plan will see Australia protected by new, larger offshore patrol vessels, purpose-built for border protection, capable of operating right out to Christmas Island and the Indian Ocean territories.

Australians deserve better than the Howard Government’s bungling and policy on the run. Only a Federal Labor Government will secure Australia’s borders with a Coastguard.

Further information:

Jonathan Kirkwood (McClelland’s office) 0425 231 690 Matt Nurse (Roxon’s office) 0417 386 535