Monday, 24 June 2013
Social Policy and Legal Affairs Committee; Report
On behalf of the Standing Committee on Social Policy and Legal Affairs, I present the committee's report, entitled Troubled waters: inquiry into the arrangements surrounding crimes committed at sea, together with the minutes of proceedings and evidence received by the committee.
In accordance with standing order 39(f) the report was made a parliamentary paper.
by leave—many Australians will recall the tragic death of Dianne Brimble in 2002 on board a P&O cruise ship. I again pass on my condolences to all of her family. The New South Wales coroner found that Ms Brimble's death was caused by the effects of a drug administered by a known person. Despite numerous prosecutions, no manslaughter convictions or custodial sentences were imposed in relation to her death. One underlying reason for this was P&O's failure to properly secure the crime scene after her death. Despite our inquiry, Australians learnt of another tragedy occurring on a cruise ship just last month. Paul Rossington and Kristen Schroder fell overboard 15 hours before vessel staff were alerted to their disappearance. Their disappearance is not considered suspicious, but it underlines the importance of safety measures on cruise ships to prevent tragedies from occurring.
Although the industry is now better equipped to respond to crimes committed at sea and despite the complications of international law, there is more for the industry and for the Australian government to do. Where Australia has jurisdiction under international law, the committee has recommended the Australian government act to make cruising safer and to ensure justice for victims of crimes on cruises. Where Australia does not have jurisdiction, the committee has made clear recommendations about Australia working harder at the international level to bring about an improvement in the industry.
The committee recommended that Australia introduce a mandatory crime reporting regime as well as crime scene management protocols which cruise operators would need to comply with in order to access Australian ports. The report also makes the case for Australia to pursue much stronger action within the International Maritime Organization, the international body charged with developing the laws that regulate maritime conduct. This should focus on matters like closed-circuit television systems; man-overboard detection systems, which is a developing technology; and, importantly, a responsible service of alcohol code. We have also recommended the enactment of legislation requiring cruise operators to provide passengers boarding vessels in Australia with information about protecting their safety, as well as information about crisis services and their rights when accidents or crimes occur—and let us hope they do not.
Finally, and on behalf of the Standing Committee on Social Policy and Legal Affairs, I would like to extend my sincere appreciation to Mr Mark Brimble, the former husband of Dianne Brimble, whom we met with and from whom we heard evidence in the inquiry. Mark fought for years to ensure that justice was served for Dianne's death, and he has made an enormous contribution to the safety of all cruise passengers, not just in Australia but all around the world. He, along with the chair of the International Cruise Victims Association, Mr Kendall Carver, gave invaluable assistance to the inquiry, and their evidence has been crucial to the committee's deliberations and to this report. Mark Brimble's tireless and unwavering commitment to justice and to the safety of all cruise passengers has been inspirational to many people, and, on behalf of all Australians, I again thank him for his steadfastness.
I would also like to thank the secretariat: the secretary, Dr Anna Dacre, whom I see is in the chamber and whom it has been a great pleasure to work with in this parliament and the 42nd Parliament; the inquiry secretaries, Natalya Wells, who has since gone on to different waters, and Thomas Gregory, who compiled most of the report; and senior researchers Dr John White and Ms Lauren Wilson.
I would also like to thank all of the social policy and legal affairs committee. I would particularly like to thank the deputy chair, the member for Pearce, who I do not think is going to be able to speak on behalf of the opposition. This is a unanimous report from the committee. I would particularly like to thank the member for Pearce for her great contribution to the committee throughout the last three years. She has been a pleasure to work with. I wish her well in her future endeavours. I commend this report to the House.