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Joint Media Release
Australian Minister for the Environment and Heritage
Senator the Hon. Ian Campbell
Australian Minister for Fisheries,Forestry and Conservation
Senator the Hon Eric Abetz
7 June 2006
Today, Opposition Leader Kim Beazley has again been caught out twisting the facts to suit his political purpose.
This time, it is over whether the Government burns illegal foreign fishing vessels. Mr Beazley's claim the Howard Government does not burn illegal fishing boats is the same misleading nonsense he engaged in when he was caught out wrongly claiming that a Perth hospital was on “bypass” when his daughter needed treatment in 2001.
Today's West Australian newspaper says:
“Burn illegal fish boats: Labor”
(The West Australian, 7 June 2006)
I attach a front page story from the Northern Territory News showing Treasurer Peter Costello doing just that just three weeks ago, on 17 May, 2006.
Not only has this been a long-standing practice by the Howard Government, but it was a central plank in the massively increased budget to combat illegal fishing, announced in May.
The only reason an illegal fishing vessel may not be taken to shore and burnt is if doing so would pose an unacceptable risk to the Australian authorities apprehending the boat – such as when many illegal vessels are captured at once. If this occurs all the fishing gear on board is confiscated.
Mr Beazley's new policy seems to advocate burning all such vessels at sea. Not only would this pose a serious threat to the lives of the Australian authorities, who would have to undertake the task, it would also break the international marine pollution protocol 'the London Convention' to which Australia is a signatory. This convention prevents the dumping of wastes and other matter at sea.
The Howard Government's May budget provided a massive $388.9 million to boost the fight against illegal foreign fishing.
This included $65.9 million, which will go towards the construction of new boat-burning facilities as well as the upgrading of the processing facility for foreign fishermen in Broome, the establishment of facilities in Gove (Nhulunbuy) and Weipa and modifications to the facility in the Torres Strait. The additional resources will also meet the costs associated with the apprehension, transportation, processing and accommodation of the several thousand extra fishermen likely to be detained each year.
Combined with the $167 million committed in 2005-06, this budget brings the Howard Government's extra commitment to fighting illegal fishing in Australia's northern waters to more than half a billion dollars over the next four years.
Rob Broadfield 08 9421 1755 or 0409 493 902