LEAGUE OPPOSES SEPARATE COAST GUARD CONCEPT
ON COASTAL SURVEILLANCE ARRANGEMENT
Navy League is dismayed by repeated calls for "an Australian Coast Guard"
when the country already has an efficient coastal surveillance/ interception
organisation that happens to be called "Coastwatch" instead of the more
usual "Coast Guard" used by several other countries.
Too Few Australians seem to appreciate the magnitude of their country's
ocean surrounds or the number of government departments and agencies
with both maritime and land-based interests and responsibilities - Customs,
Immigration, Fisheries and of course Defence to name but a few.
The problem of policing our so-called "moat" has been under almost constant
examination for more than 30 years. A major weakness until mid 1999
was the failure to establish an acceptable authority to co-ordinate
the activities and resources of the various departments involved, even
though the need was recognised, in particular by the Hudson Inquiry
The deficiencies in co-ordination were rectified in 1999 following an
inquiry into current surveillance arrangements ordered by the Prime
Minister. Among measures designed to strengthen the existing organisation
in a 4 year program, the position of Director General Coastwatch was
created and an experienced senior naval officer seconded from Defence
to till the position. In a relative short time the Director General,
with a tiny staff and the administrative support of the Customs Department,
has brought together the various elements concerned ar1d established
an organisation other countries would call a Coast Guard. The result
has been that the number of illegal vessels slipping through the Coastwatch
net is less than 5 per cent.
The Navy League believes that while lessons can be learned from the
experience of others, Australia must construct its own organisation
to suit its own circumstances and its own level of available resources,
human and material. Coastwatch is basically sound and nothing is to
be gained by forming new departments or agencies or messing about with
the Armed Forces. The way to go is to improve what we already have in
Authorised by: Geoffrey Evans Chairman Advisory Council Navy
League of Australia.
Enquiries: Melbourne (OJ) 9459 4387 ( Geoff Evans). Canberra:
(02) 6292 1452 ( Harry Adams).
All Correspondence to Federal Secretariat; P.O. Box 309 Mt/.
Waverley, Victoria. 3149
Phone: (O3) 9888 1977 , Facsimile: (03) 9888 1013