Wednesday, 16 June 2021
Transport Security Amendment (Serious Crime) Bill 2020; In Committee
I thank Minister Cash for coming into the chamber and providing some advice. I think we are going to have to agree to disagree with the government. I just want to say, for the record—it still stands, throughout this debate—that it seems clear that the government has not taken on board the advice provided by the former Department of Immigration and Border Protection to this Senate in 2017 that flag-of-convenience vessels and foreign crew pose risks and that there are arrangements, in terms of regulation and practice, that make those vessels and those crew attractive for use in illegal activity, including by organised crime and terrorist groups. The government hasn't taken that advice, and there's nothing in this legislation that addresses that risk. It's clear the government has no intention of putting anything in place, either in this legislation or anywhere else, to address that risk. The purpose of this amendment is to try and give the government an opportunity to address that risk. They already fixed up this legislation once, when they introduced it into the parliament. They could have amended it again. They could have come up with their own scheme. They haven't done that.
Let's be clear what the vote we are about to have on this amendment is. It is this Liberal-National government, Mr Morrison's government, that is refusing to put in place any measures, either in this bill or indeed where it should appropriately lie, in other legislation that deals with visas, to ensure that we are addressing the risk that was highlighted to this Senate by the then Department of Immigration and Border Protection. We have had example after example presented in this debate. There is Captain Salas, who the then Department of Immigration and Border Protection—now the Australian Border Force—have had holdings about since 1994, who's been wanted by the New South Wales coroner since 2012 for questioning, who gave evidence on the record and yet somehow was allowed to come back into Australia, to the ports of Weipa and Gladstone in 2016, despite the fact he gave evidence about his illegal and illicit activities, despite the fact he was wanted by the coroner for some years before he gave that evidence, and despite the fact the department of immigration had information about him, which they stated in evidence, since 1994. We know that the North Korean government were using flag-of-convenience vessels to smuggle weapons, including 30,000 rocket grenades. That was revealed in August 2017. We know the Tongan government was recently forced to shutter their own flag-of-convenience vessels because it was shown that al-Qaeda owned the vessels and were using the lax arrangements at maritime ports to transport weapons, ammunition and crew to Europe.
Labor has sought a sensible solution here—to amend schedule 1 of this bill, to allow the entire regime to go ahead for aviation card holders, for the ASIC holders, and to allow schedule 2 to proceed for maritime, to allow for the intelligence assessments to proceed, to simply allow the government to have the ability to strengthen this bill, to deal with these very risks that have been highlighted now. When this vote occurs on this amendment, let's be clear what we're voting on, and, for those who vote against the amendment, let's be clear what they're saying: they're disregarding the risks posed by flag-of-convenience vessels and foreign crew.
The CHAIR: The question is that opposition amendment (1) on sheet 1117, as revised and moved by Senator Keneally, be agreed to.