Act of Piracy
The Australian parliament has been told that the federal government has acquiesced with what amounted to an act of piracy by asylum seekers on the merchant ship MV Parsifal last week.
Act on piracy, says opposition
THE federal government has acquiesced with what amounted to an act of piracy by asylum seekers on the merchant ship MV Parsifal last week, parliament has been told.
Justice, customs and border protection spokesman Michael Keenan on Monday said the “threats and intimidation” that forced the ship’s master to take the rescued asylum seekers to Christmas Island were completely and utterly unacceptable.
Mr Keenan warned that incidents like this could lead merchant ships to “think about their responses” when told of asylum seeker boats in distress.
The ships could also start avoiding the area.
The Liberal MP said he understood the government was now, belatedly, investigating the incident.
Mr Keenan was speaking on a bill that consolidates 35 separate laws into a single maritime enforcement law.
It provides enforcement power to cover fishing, customs and migration matters, including the power to board, search and seize people and documents.
Mr Keenan attacked the government for “slashing and burning” the budgets of law enforcement agencies, especially the Australian Crime Commission.
He said the cuts made Australia’s ports and airports more vulnerable to organised crime and pledged that a coalition government would reverse them.
While the opposition will support the bill, pending the report of a Senate committee, Mr Keenan said he was concerned that it may place extra burdens on maritime officials.
Officers, who were being “pushed to breaking point”, needed help, not hindrance.
The Maritime Powers Bill 2012 was passed by the lower house and now goes to the Senate.
Liberal MP Alex Hawke used the debate to link cuts affecting border protection to increased gun crimes in Sydney.
“Cuts to customs screening of vessels has led to bad outcomes, especially for people in Sydney who are the victim of more illegal gun crime,” he told parliament.
Source: Herald Sun