[Extract from Senate Hansard, 27 November 2006]

QUESTIONS ON NOTICE
Illegal Entry Vessels
(Question No. 1411)

Senator Milne (Tasmania) asked the Minister for Justice and Customs, upon notice, on 1 December 2005:

(1) How many rescues of suspected illegal entry vessels was Coastwatch involved in between 1 January 1999 and 31 December 2001; (b) what were the code names of those suspected illegal entry vessels; and(c) how many passengers were aboard those vessels.

(2) (a) What action was taken by Coastwatch on 27 March and 28 March 2001 in relation to the rescue at sea of the suspected illegal entry vessel codenamed Gelantipy; and (b) what records are held by Coastwatch in relation to the rescue at sea of this vessel.

Senator Ellison (Western Australia - Minister for Justice and Customs) - The answer to the honourable senatorís question is as follows:

(1) During the period 1 January 1999 and 31 December 2001 Customs was involved in the rescue of one suspected illegal entry vessel. The incident occurred on 8 November 2001, North of Ashmore Islands and involved the Australian Customs Vessel Arnhem Bay, Fremantle Class Patrol Boat HMAS Wollongong and the suspected illegal entry vessel Sumber Lestari (b) The suspected illegal entry vessel was code-named SIEV 10. (c) During the course of the rescue, which lasted fifty-seven minutes, Customs and Navy personnel retrieved 164 people (including two deceased persons and four Indonesian crew) from the water. The Sumber Lestrai eventually burnt to the waterline and sank. (2)

(a) Coastwatch was not directly involved with the rescue of the suspected illegal entry vessel codenamed Gelantipy, however:

- in accordance with Standard Operating Procedures, Coastwatch acted as a conduit for the exchange of information among relevant client agencies in relation to the vessel; and
- on 27 March 2001, a Coastwatch aircraft was released to Australian Search and Rescue (AusSAR) to conduct a search for the vessel

(b) Coastwatch has records of exchanges of information with relevant client agencies and with AusSAR.

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