|[Extract from Senate Hansard, 16 June 2003, p. 11576]
(Question No. 1381)
Senator Jacinta Collins asked the Minister for Justice and Customs, upon notice, on 8 April 2003:
(1) Why did the written answer given in response to questions asked by Senator Collins to the Australian Federal Police (AFP) Commissioner, Mr Keelty, during a hearing of the Select Committee on a Certain Maritime Incident on 11 July 2002 (Committee Hansard, 11 July 2002, p. CMI 1982) not reveal that a survivorís statement disclosed that there was radio contact between the crew of SIEV X and Abu Quassey at a time when there was apparently apprehension about the ability of the vessel to remain afloat.
(2) Why did the answer not explain the statement by Commissioner Keelty that there was no knowledge at all of radio calls from SIEV X to the mainland.
Senator Ellison - The answer to the honourable senatorís question is as follows:
(1) The answer provided to the Senatorís question took the form it did because the query was understood to relate to distress calls. The answer did disclose that there were hearsay accounts of information but these did not include distress calls. No reference was made to the specific communication apparently referred to in the Senatorís present question as that did not involve a distress call. It is apparent from the transcript at the time the question was taken on notice that Senator Collins was already aware of that communication, as she refers specifically at the time to her understanding from survivor reports that there was communication between SIEV X and the mainland. The particular communication referred to in the question does not reveal apprehension about the ability of the vessel to stay afloat.
(2) See answer to (1). The Commissioner having indicated at the hearing that he did not have personal knowledge of any calls, has advised me that he subsequently became aware of the particular information referred to by the Senator. The answer provided to the Committee did not refer to the information for the reasons stated in answer to (1). At the time the Committee was provided with the answer, the covering letter invited the Committee to seek further clarification but the Committee did not do so. The Commissioner referred at length, in subsequent answers to questions at the hearing, to the particular communication referred to in the question, and that communication was made available to the Committee.