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Customs remembers contribution of Dame Roma Mitchell.

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  Friday 8 December 2000


CUSTOMS REMEMBERS CONTRIBUTION OF DAME ROMA MITCHELL One of the Australian legal fraternity’s trailblazers, the late Dame Roma Mitchell, was today honoured in a ceremony by the Minister for Justice and Customs, Senator Amanda Vanstone, that also celebrated a major boost to Australia’s civil surveillance.

Speaking at Port Adelaide to members of South Australia’s legal community, former colleagues and friends of Dame Roma, Senator Vanstone said that in memory of a great woman and fighter for the rights of all people, Customs was naming one of its new Bay Class vessels the Dame Roma Mitchell.

"Dame Roma, in one of her last public appearances, commissioned the ACV Holdfast Bay - one of the eight sister vessels in the new Customs fleet - in Port Adelaide in October last year.

"After Dame Roma’s death in March this year, Customs agreed to my suggestion to honour the memory of the ‘first lady’ of South Australia by naming one of the new vessels after her," Senator Vanstone said.

Well known for not being daunted by the new or the challenging, Dame Roma was Australia’s first female Queen’s Counsel, the first female Supreme Court judge, the first woman in the Commonwealth (outside the Royal family) to be a chancellor of a university, the first woman to be appointed governor of an Australian state, and a founding chair of the Human Rights Commission.

Senator Vanstone said Customs, like Dame Roma, was determined to face the challenges of protecting Australia and its people and not

be daunted by the task.

"The task of maritime surveillance has been made easier with the state-of-the-art technology on board the vessels, allowing for greater coverage of Australia’s 37,000km of coastline.

In commissioning the ACV Holdfast Bay in October 1999, Dame Roma said the new vessels would join in Customs important role of protecting Australia from the risks of illegal activities such as drug smuggling and assist other border agencies in protecting Australia’s unique environment.

"The Holdfast Bay has delivered on Dame Roma’s promise, particularly with its key role this year in the seizure of almost 500kg of cocaine north of Sydney. Now the Customs fleet is further boosted with the ACV Dame Roma Mitchell also providing further protection for our border, and a safer Australia," Senator Vanstone said.

The Australian Customs Vessel, Dame Roma Mitchell, built for $7m, is the seventh of eight new Customs vessels, designed to boost Australia’s border protection capabilities. It was made in Australia by Austal Ships.

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