Siev X
(Question No. 1280)

Senator Nettle 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:

(1) What was the evidentiary basis for Senator Vanstoneís answer that the vessel sank in 'international waters'.
(2) What was the evidentiary basis for Senator Ellisonís statement, in a media release of 8 June 2005, that the sinking occurred in international waters.
(3) (a) Why was the answer to the question, noted above, amended on 13 September 2005 to change the location from 'international waters' to 'unknown location'; and (b) on what evidence was this based.
(4) (a) Why was the press release noted in (2) above amended on 15 July 2005 to change the location from 'international waters' to 'unknown location'; and (b) who authorised the amendment.

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.
(2) I am unable to respond to this question. You should seek advice from Senator Ellison on this matter.
(3) (a) and (b) The estimate was not subsequently corroborated by other sources and the Australian Governmentís position is that the location where the vessel sank is unknown. This was endorsed by the Senate Select Committee on a Certain Maritime Incident.
(4) (a) and (b) 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.

X-URL: http://www.aph.gov.au/hansard/senate/dailys/ds281105.pdf

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