PM Transcripts

Transcripts from the Prime Ministers of Australia

Transcript 5353


Photo of Fraser, Malcolm

Fraser, Malcolm

Period of Service: 11/11/1975 to 11/03/1983

More information about Fraser, Malcolm on The National Archive website.

Release Date: 17/05/1980

Release Type: Speech

Transcript ID: 5353

Thank you for inviting me to open the " Practical Seamanship
and Fisheries Training Centre", the first stage of the
Australian Maritime College.
The College, of which this Centre is a~ part, is a further
step in a series of initiatives which may result in Tasmania
becoming known as the maritime centre of Australia. After all,
such a reputation is what one might expect of a State named
after that famous seafaring explorer, Abel Tasman.
In fact, Tasman's seafaring exploits are fine examples of
practical seamanshir-, and no doubt will be a source of
inspiration for the Centre's first contingent of 120 officer
trainees. The Government is proud to be associated with this College,
and is confident that the $ 25.6 million in Commonwealth capital
funds to be spend on thE: College by 1984 will be amply repaid
by the quality of College graduates.
Until now, Australia has relied, to a large extent, on officers
who have received their training, and often their qualifications,
in overseas countries, particularly the United Kingdom.
This College will redress that imbalance by providing a wide
range of courses designed to ensure that the: training received
by Australian seafarers is equal to any in the world.
By 1984, the full-time student population will be about 600,
and it is anticipated that by the same year, about 900
experienced personnel will be undertaking short specialist
courses. Thus, not only will the College meet the needs of
budding deck officers, engineers, radio officers and the like,
but also it will enable serving marine officers to keep
informed of the latest developments in their field.
The skills the students obtain here, at this nati4onal
institution, will fit them for the positions they occupy, or
intend to occupy, in the fishing and shipping industries,
and in so doing, will strengthen these important Australian
This decade promises to be exciting and challenging, and
those associated with our off-shore areas will benefit from
a new pericd of research, development and investment opening 2

up in our off-shore waters.
We have recently declared a 200 nautical mile fishing zone
around Australia, giving us control over, and access to, a
marine resource area approximately equal to the land mass of
the continent itself.
Most of our oil and gas has been found off-shore: the Gippsland
Basin in Bass Strait accounts for about 90% of our local
production of oil and that is about 60% of our total consumption;
the planned North-West Shelf project will produce four tioes
the quantity of natural gas that the Bass Strait fields are
presently producing.
The Great Barrier Reef, one of the wonders of the world,
is a priceless and irreplaceable part of our off-shore heritage
which this Government will not allow to be damaged by any
drilling or mining on or near it.
It is of vital importance that the abundant marine resources
which exist off-shore are managed, carefully; are harvested,
not plundered; are conserved, not destroyed.
Our off-shore area is the new frontier, a new world to be
mastered. As with all things new and untried, it has demanded
a fresh approach by governments, Commonwealth and State.
Old, inappropriate policies have been discarded and replaced
by policies and initiatives which reflect the importance of
this zorne to Australia.
These policies could not be adequately developed until the
vexed question of Commonwealth/ State jursidiction over the
off-shore areas had been resolved.
For over a decade, Commonwealth and State governments had
wrestled with what appeared to be irreconcilable State and
Commonwealth interests in off-shore areas. The debate was
sometimes heated, often acrimonious. But always, until the
advent of this government, inconclusive.
It represented a sorry and depressing~ catalogue of
Commonwealth and State distrust and resentment.
Finally in 1975, the High Court ruled that the Commonwealth
has exclusive power over the surrounding seas up to the low
water mark. Armed with this decision, the Commonwealth cou). d
have asserted total control from the low water mark, seaward.
Wle could have excluded the States completely from the control,
management, and a share, of the off-shore resources.
That would have been very unfortunate for Tasmania, and for
all the States and the Northern Territory.
We chose not to do so.
Instead, we embarked on a process of shared power.
Wle have just introduced into the Federal Parliament a historic
package of bills which give practical expression to our policy

of co-operative Federalism; to our commnitment to co-operation,
not confrontation.
These bills provide the legal basis for States' rights and
activities in the off-shore area.
lie believe that the " Three Mile" territorial sea is an area
best left for local State jurisidiction, except on matters
of over-riding national or international importance.
Also, we believe that a State's legislative powers should
extend to fisheries in Au~ stralian waters beyond the
" Three Mile" territorial sea, provided there is an arrangement
between the Commonwealth and the State that the fisheries are
to be managed in accordance with the laws of the State.
Other bills in the package will, briefly speaking, vest in
each State proprietary rights and title in respect of the
seabed of the adjacent territorial sea; give to the States
control of off-shore petroleum mining in the adjacent
territorial sea; and no doubt, of vital interest to this
College, establish arrangements which lay the basis for a
complete resolution of shipping and navigation problems
that have existed in Australia since federation.
I am pleased to say that all State governments, of both
political persuasion, including Tasmania, have joined in
e. spirit of co-operation, to enable the States and the
Commonwealth to share powers and resources in the seas
surrounding Australia.
The package of bills will enable the Commonwealth and the
States to develop, in a co-operative way, the resources of
the sea, and of the land beneath. This is of special importance
to Tasmania, as an island State with a great fishing industry.
These agreements, painstakingly reached after two years of
detailed negotiations, have set the framework within which
the Commonwealth and States can come together in co-operation
to safeguard Australia's off-shore interests.
The groundwork has been laid, but much more is needed.
Increased research, bringing with it increased knowledge
and understanding of this vast new world, is vital if we are
to ensure optimum utilisation and proper conservation of
the available resources.
To this end, we have already established the Austral. ian
Institute of Marine Science and located it in Townsville
in close proximity to the Great Barrier Reef. It presently
engages in valuable research work on the Reef, and recent
decisions will boost its role even further.
Scientists from overseas already have undertaken research
at the Institute. We want it to become world-renowned, engaging
in research of the highest calibre, and internationally admired
for its scientific and professional expertise. / 14

In addition, we have created an expert scientific advisory
body, " ASTEC" ( The Australian Science and Technology Council)
which has a specialised sub-committee, " AMSTAC" ( The Australian
Marine Sciences and Technologies Advisory Committee).
Advice from these bodies assists us to make the best and
wisest decisions in relation to marine science and research.
As a result of ASTEC's report last year, additional research
funds were made available and we are currently examining a
second ASTEC report, to determine the future funding of
marine science programmes.
Also, as you are no doubt aware, we have decided to re-locate
in Tasmania the CSIRO division of Fisheries and Oceanography.
This $ 25 million decision will involve the transfer of the
CSIRO division of Fisheries and Oceanography at present
headquartered at Cronulla, N. S. W.
It will include acquisition of a suitable site in Hobart
and construction of the CSIRO Marine Science laboratories;
and it will implement Construction of a $ 9 million multipurpose
oceanographic research vessel which will be able to
range around the Australian continent. This vessel will be
in addition to three other research and training vessels the
Commonwealth has commissioned to be built, purchased, or
refitted at a total cost of over $ 6 million.
The funds to commence this total package will be committed
next year thereby establishing inTasmania, with CSIRO facilities
a first-class marine science centre.
The centre, together with the transfer of the Antarctic
Division of the Department of Science and the Environment
will constitute a research establishemnt of international
standing. It is not by accident that we have chosen Tasmania as a
home for many of these activities.
As our closest point to the Antarctic, it was an obvious
choice for the Antarctic Division of the Department of
Science and the Environment.
The Commonwealth has expended over $ 8 million on facilities
for this division. It will have a core staff of 100, with up
to 150 additional specialists recruited for varying periods.
By bringing together these research and related activities,
Tasmania will become the hub of Australia's Antarctic endeavours,
and an important centre for marine science and research for
all Australia.
We also hope that Hobart will be selected as the headquarters
of the commission proposed under the " Convention for the
Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources"

Delegates from 15 countries are currently meeting in Canberra
and are expected to reach a decision on this matter next
week. No doubt, the examination of various Hobart sites they made
with the Federal Minister for Productivity and Member for
Bass, Mr. Kevin Newman, will assist them in their deliberations.
Tasmania's significant fishing industry makes it a logical
choice for the CSIRO's Marine Science Centre and the Australian
Maritime College.
Tasmania is going to play an increasingly important role in
advancing Australia's knowledge of, and capacity to develop,
the resources of the sea.
Major facilities are being established here; facilities that
will place Tasmania, and therefore, Australia, at the forefront
of marine -science and technology.
Already, a number of foreign fishing interests are making a
close study of Tasmania's fishing resources.
Some members of the Tasmanian fishing industry have voiced
their concern about the foreign fishing operations in and
around Tasmanian waters. Our position is clea~ r. To ensure
effective exploitation and preservation of Australian marine
resources, we have to determine the total allowable catches;
the amount that can be taken by Australians; and the allocation
that can be made to foreign countries, if any surplus is
available. Guidelines administered by the Commonwealth Department of
Primary Industry deny foreign fishing interests access to
fisheries fully exploited by Australians or likely to be so
in the near future.
Our policy of giving preference to Australians will ensure
that as they develop the capacity to harvest more resources,
foreign operations will be reduced accordingly.
A pleasing development, is the co-operation that has been
displayed between Australian, Japanese and Polish interests
in carrying out feasibility studies in and around Tasmanian
waters. The Commonwealth Government has supported in the past,
and will continue to support in the future, these types of
studies, for we believe all Australians benefit from a healthy,
viable, fishing industry.
We are committed to thE! exploration of fish resources in the
200 mile zone, and have made additional moneys available for
research and development. For example, new fishing-grounds
have been identified off north west Tasmania.
Knowing that the fish are there, is one thing; finding them,
as every fisherman knows, is another. / 6

Consequently, in 1980-81, the " Tasmanian Fisheries Development
Authority" will receive a Commonwealth grant for a feasibility
study of the application of " satellite remote sensing" tc
fisheries investigations.
I have no doubt this will be extremely helpful to commercial
fishermen. However, when space-age technology catches up
with amateur fishermen like me, I think it will take all the
fun out of fishing.
Ladies and gentlemen, Australiastands poised to embark on a
programme of maritime activity and marine research which,
for Australia as the world's only island continent, is
long overdue.
As I mentioned earlier, Tasmania has all the portents of becoming
Australia's maritime centre. And I am sure the Australian
Maritime College will go a long way towards enhancing such a
reputation. So, to the staff who will serve here, and to the
students who will study here, I wish " bon voyage"
I have great pleasure in declaring open the first stage of the
Australian Maritime College, the " Practical Seamanship and
Fisheries Training Centre".

Transcript 5353