(Question No. 1290)
Senator Bob Brown asked the Minister for Immigration and Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs, upon notice, on 5 October 2005:
With reference to the answer to question on notice no. 431 (Senate Hansard, 14 June 2005, p. 168) regarding the sinking of the SIEV X vessel in which it was stated that the tragedy occurred in 'international waters' and the subsequent amendment to the answer replacing these specific words with the non-specific words 'at an unknown location':
(1) Why was the first answer revised.
Senator Vanstone - The answer to the honourable senatorís question is as follows:
(1) My first response to question 431 indicating that the boat known as SIEV X sank in international waters was consistent with the Department of Immigration and Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs (DIMIA) records and with our responses to the Senate Select Committee on a Certain Maritime Incident that the boat sank approximately 60 nautical miles south of the Sunda Strait. DIMIAís records at that time were based on an estimate provided by Coastwatch. However, that estimate was not subsequently corroborated by other sources and the Australian Governmentís position is that the location where the vessel sank is unknown. It was appropriate that the previous responses concerning this matter be amended to reflect the consensus across Government agencies that the position of the sinking is unknown and that the answer to question 431 had been based on an estimate that was not corroborated by other sources.
(2) I do not intend to speculate on where the unknown position of the sinking may or may not be in respect of international waters and the territorial seas of Indonesia and Australia.
(3) As the location of the sinking is unknown, it is not possible to provide the information requested.