At least for the moment, speech is still FREE!

 Back to Home Page


 Australian Customs
 Update as of September 09, information an entering yacht should know; In the last year many letters have been received and published by TCP reporting on positive experiences entering via yacht. While these are good to have the problem is good experience isn't yet universal. Customs enforcement is regionally controlled. The Queensland district has been the area of concern from the start. Even in Queensland it seems it is also the personnel at the particular port. Working from the same set of laws, other districts have had no reports while Queensland has made headlines and a few ports have had repetitive confrontations. Bundaberg exceeds the rest. Complicating the matter there, a marina manager is on record stating that boats should be subject to the harsh treatment experienced by some boats there (forced removal of crew with destructive search) and that any port that doesn't operate similarly is derelict in their duty. An official in the local sailing club that is involved in international regattas is reported to be a former AQIS agent herself and supportive of the harsh treatment of entering yachts. This person is on record as stating as long as most entering yachts are treated well there should be no complaint! False rumours concerning persons charged by customs at Bundaberg have been propagated through the web via forums with sources claimed to be from Bundaberg. Bundaberg is an excellent choice for entry for every other reason except the bureaucracy and a few local business people. Once in town and up river, boats will find one of the best seasonal shelters and provisioning centres in Australia. Most boats do report positively but it does seem to be a matter of chance.. do you feel lucky? If not, expect hostility from some of the locals (see TCP # 34 pgs10-11 and TCP # 35 pgs10-11-12). Brisbane and Cairns have also had multiple negative reports. Gladstone, Mackay and Bowen have no reports and Townsville and Mooloolaba have nothing serious on their record. None of the vessels charged by customs over the last several years has been charged with any offence other than administrative. In fact one has to look back over a decade ago to find a noteworthy smuggling reported via yacht whilst reports of heroin or cocaine arrests come from airports and commercial shipping depots daily. Yacht crews are extraordinarily law abiding. To view some of the positive accounts of entry see the letters section in TCP #'s 27, 29 , 33 and the latest issue, # 38 has a good report from a Norwegian vessel. TCP reports have been factual! TCP has never been forced to make a correction in reportage on any subject due to error or neglect. However, in an article taking information from Bundaberg sources on Customs issues, the magazine Cruising Helmsman, was requested and did correct errors regarding comments mistakenly attributed and to pay TCP for legal costs. (TCP# 35 pgs 4 &10) IT should be noted... from the material above that most Customs personnel are decent people. What the above does show is that bad legislation in the hands of idiots is dangerous.

 What do the sailors say that have confronted Australian customs.........

A SMALL sample of letters recieved concerning dealings with Customs.


From TCP 26

 G'day mate,

Last year (2006) I sailed the Louissiades to Samurai (Again) and back to Australia. Prior to departure at the Townsville Customs office while clearing out, the officer pointed out the 48hr(!) reporting rule to me but stated 'We understand it's difficult for small boats to comply, so just do the best you can and give us as much notice as you can. 'Man, I wish I had that on tape now!
When I returned to Australia at the start of November,( after leaving Samurai where there is only one public phone and no phone cards available to use it ), I tried repeatedly to call customs on the VHF and finally as I approached Magnetic Island by Mobile Phone which was the only method I could raise them. As it was 3am, the night shift officer seemed unconcerned and directed me to tie up, hoist the Q flag and wait at the Breakwater Marina.
I had just done the passage (5 days) solo and was totally knackered. After finally arriving around 5am, I then waited for Customs. Arriving around 9:30am, Quarantine finished their job and customs started theirs. Customs were anything but friendly. I was clearly knackered, but immediately after clearing me in I was informed they were going to conduct a taped interview for the offence of failing to give 96 hrs notice of arrival! I could hardly hear, let alone comprehend the lengthy warning regarding my rights. I wondered why we couldn't do this after some sleep? I was already here wasn't I? They'd already searched the boat and cleared me in hadn't they?
During the interview I was asked why I hadn't called them? With what, I asked? They suggested that we should all have satellite phones, or E-mail. I asked what was wrong with the traditional HF radio that most off shore yachties have?
They said they didn't monitor HF, too bad try something else! They wanted to know why I didn't email or fax from Samurai? Are you kidding? With a coconut shell?
The interview was very, very thorough pointing out to me the 96(!) hr rule in the paperwork I was given prior to departure which differed from the photocopied sheet I was shown at the office in Townsville prior to departure.

Anyway to cut a long story short, I have received no process at this stage and as I was interviewed in November, I would have expected process to be served by now if it was going to be. I would prefer to remain anonymous with regards to this fact as I would hate to see Customs get upset and decide to proceed and charge me after all. I have watched closely the stories of others who have been less fortunate than myself with disgust.

I found recently:
A survey conducted by the Bureau of meteorology gathering information relating to their HF radio service. It had some interesting statistics in it. Of all the vessels surveyed 71% were the yachting community.
They asked this question... Apart from the HF radio service, what other ways are available to you to obtain your marine weather forecast and warnings whilst on the water?
A whopping 10% had internet/email! And a gigantic 3% had a satellite phone! So, it seems at MOST 13% of us can actually comply with their 96hr reporting rule if departing from a remote destination! Now it seems to me if Customs were seriously concerned with the threats this rule is designed to alleviate, they would monitor a HF frequency (They claim to already monitor VHF, so someone is there listening already) and close to 87% of us would be able to comply with ease and with a far more accurate ETA.

Whilst in PNG this trip, I was approached by a man who wanted me to smuggle cannabis and gold into Australia. I feigned basic interest, collected information and passed it to customs in Townsville just prior to being interviewed, before being aware I had broken the 96 hr law and was about to be interviewed. I would never do such a thing again.
Customs have successfully alienated me, and probably every other arriving yachtie they have had contact with in 2006. I had no such experience in 2003 when Customs were helpful. It seems a culture of fear and distrust has permeated the Customs department in Australia based on our own fear of terrorism approaching or shores. I think as a nation we have simply been blinded by this irrational fear and it's doing us no good at all. It is surprising though that Customs hasn't recognized that the best people to help them allay their own fears.... is us!

Who better to be the eyes and ears on the periphery of Australia's coast watch, and to see and hear where the Australian Customs cannot, than the arriving yachts themselves? Customs promote this with their stickers asking us to call them. Maybe their PR department doesn't talk to their field guys.

Anyway, that's my story. I'm headed for Samurai, Louissiades and the Solomon's again this year and will be asking the Customs office in Cairns for specific directions of how to comply with the 96hr law when returning this year. I can't wait to record that conversation! Maybe they'll suggest that as 87% of us can't comply, we shouldn't go..... And then we'll loose yet another freedom to our own state sponsored terrorism!

Another boatie who wishes NOT to be named…

 From TCP 26

G'day Bob,


A couple of points:
*Customs have again omitted to mention the 10 day maximum as per stated in a recent media release. Considering it can take more than 10 days from the Pacific, it is impossible for some Yachts to comply with the 96 Hour rule.

*Prior to 2005, yachts could register arrival details via HF radio 48 hours prior. Why do customs not answer HF calls 96 hours prior to arrival? If customs answered HF calls not only would they be doing a better job at protecting Australia's borders, but would also seem friendlier to the incoming tourists and it would enable customs to keep better tabs on who is where and doing what.

*Customs point to their web site! Fair enough! Why, considering the $200-300 million spent on up grading the customs computer systems, is the web site not to easier to navigate? Why can it not be accessed in different languages? (it would cost a couple of hundred dollars) Why does the immigration web site mention the 10 day rule but not the customs web site its self? (correct as of about a month ago should double check)

*The rules for commercial shipping and yachts are the same, yet not the same. According to the retired Chairman, Bob Gosling, of Customs and Forwarders Council of Australia inc. CBFCA for short. "We have the same cargo reporting problems as the boaties do .. a ship can sail from NZ and be in Sydney or Melbourne in days. The shipping companies issue bills of lading only once the ship has sailed. So chuck in a weekend / public holiday and you have no hope in hell to “pre” report to Customs the way they have rules. Each offence is a A$1200 fine. As an industry, we are fighting this and have even sent a study group of Shipping Australia, Customs, Brokers and Forwarders to Europe and USA to compare and review systems."

*So it seems that even commercial shipping can not comply with the 96 hour rule! Yet they have negotiated a $1200 fine for each offence, whereas yachts are paying tens of thousands of dollars in fines and legal fees. So the laws are not the same for yachts as commercial shipping because the penalties are applied differently. If this is not singling out yachts then I am not sure what is! (surely Australian courts have a big enough back log already so why not $1200 fine, that hurts enough)

*It seems that customs can loose yachts emails and do on a very regular basis and considering emails are not considered legal documents what are there worth anyway.
However, we have about 100 mailing addresses. Just to make sure we comply with the 96 hour rule we will ask 100 third parties to forward our details to customs over a period of 10 days, just in case it takes us more than 10 days to sail to oz.

Lets see….100 emails = 100 over ten days = 1000 by 700 yachts that's 7 million emails for customs to read. Add the 20,000 commercial vessels and that could keep customs Canberra occupied with about 207 million emails per annum.
Best to be sure to comply.

Cheers for now,
A boatie who wishes not to be identified...

PS: Talking to one of the sailors in the TransTasman race last night told me that the last boat arrived on ANZAC day and because AQIS is now a private company they charged the race organisers $1600 to clear the boat. Imagine if the boat owner had to pay this personally. Just thought I would let you know so that you may wish to follow this up.
The whole lot is going to pot.

 From TCP 26

Dear Bob,

I have been a friend of Australia for my whole life and even give them credit for saving my ass in China in 1989. After reading the stories of robbery on the high seas by over zealous custom and court officials I have decided to avoid Australia on my round the world cruise starting in 2008 from San Francisco. My money will go elsewhere. I am planning a trip for the adventure and fun that it will bring me. I have spent eight years in the Coast Guard and Navy special forces fighting assholes that Australians want to keep out. That is fine but I don't need to be embezzled by crooked judges and custom officials anywhere anytime.
Hopefully if thousands of tourists forget about Australia and go to New Zealand the powers that be, will find the all mighty buck might change there ways. The world community is small since the internet. One good posting on the web can destroy ten years of tourist promoting by the government. The bad part, is Australian citizens who in my opinion are some of the finest people on Earth and would suffer by a few pricks in power.
I am not afraid to use my name because no matter where you are, a crook is a crook. There is no difference between a customs official and a pirate except the customs official is a using his authority to steal, lie and ruin peoples lives and a pirate has some honour by telling you he is going to rob you before he fires the cannon.

Nick Edgecomb,
Yacht Diastole, California USA

 From TCP 24

Dear Bob,

My partner, Mick and I are enroute to Australia from New York. We felt compelled to write and tell you our story, because TCP found us in Raiatea, near Tahiti in French Polynesia, so your rag is well travelled! We flew to N.Y. on the 19 April, 2006 to pick up our yacht and hoped to be home within 4 or 5 months but, as with some "new" second hand yachts, we had many and varied, rather interesting problems, including losing our rudder enroute to Marquises from Galapogas, 360nm off shore. But that is another story.
An American bloke we met who flew in from Oz on his way to USA gave us TCP to read this week (5/3) as he was stunned when he read the bit about clearing in and quite frankly, we didn't believe him. Man, we were dumbfounded, for want of a better word, couldn't believe what we were reading!! We had no idea this rule existed and had it not been for Giles and TCP we would have come home to Oz the same way we did every other time, we would have broken the rules and been many dollars worse off. How rude is that? If they really must change the rules so be it but what about some common sense? Yachties don't pose a problem. We love Australia and have been singing its praises all the way from N.Y., honestly, we believe it to be the best country. We feel so sorry for those people who wrote in to TCP. Surely the powers that be can spot a genuine error when they see one? Have you had a look at the 'net to read up on the rules? Anyone who isn't computer savvy could very easily miss the bit about the time frame for entering Australia anyway. If he had to rely on the 'net Mick would lose out every time!
Now, on clearing in/out of USA. One would expect many dramas with this country after 9/11, but frankly it was a breeze. We think THEY should change their rules, maybe just a little. No one comes to your yacht, clearing in or out. We said what happens if we come back here? Do you check out the yacht? The answer was no, phone in and come to the nearest customs and immigration office, fill out the forms, answer the relevant questions, show us your passports, get your cruising visas and off you go. WOW!!!!!!! The guy was more concerned with swapping doctor stories than with what was on our yacht. The point he made was, they know before we get there that we are coming (via satellite?). It's the old "big brother is watching you" thing. Foreign yachts are not the problem, they look elsewhere.
It saddened our hearts to read that section of TCP. What is happening to Australia? We think the "powers that be" really need to look a bit further to solve the problem of terrorists and illegals at home. This law is going to cut the number of yachties visiting Oz and that, too, is disheartening. Giles is a yachtie, his yacht (Petrel) is here in Raiatea on the hard. After going home to USA he will return to sail to Australia and he is terrified of what may happen to him.
We, too, are a little apprehensive as our yacht, "Grand Cru", although Australian registered, is from USA. Of course, we have to pay the duty, but will they be difficult with us too? We'll keep you informed.
As a matter of interest, we are regular readers of TCP and it was great to have a "little bit of home" after being away almost a year.
Anyway, all the best, look forward to reading the next bit on the Entry to Australia saga. Do you think they will modify the rule?

Brenda & Mick
SY, Grand Cru.

From TCP 24

 Dear Bob,

With a sense of disbelief I have just read the story of Magda and Bram in issue 23 of TCP. I would like to propose an idea to you that may go a long way toward gaining media attention on this important issue. By getting the press behind us we can draw this to public attention and hopefully move toward a more compassionate interpretation of customs law for cruisers caught up in the 96 hour nightmare. What I am proposing is that we have a fund rising to pay the fines of Magda and Bram. I would be willing to donate a sum of say 100 dollars to get the ball rolling. This would be a way of saying to Magda and Bram, that we as a community and as Australians welcome you to our country. Although customs has treated you unfairly, the cruising community still welcomes you and supports you. What do you think?

Jack Dunn SY, Zoa Brunk

 From TCP 24

Sample letter to
Australian Customs:

From Petrea Heathwood,
SY, Talisman

RE: Notification of arrival of
yacht ...................

Dear Sir or Madam,

Persuant to your country's requirement that I give notice of arrival at least 96 hours in advance I write to advise the details of my planned voyage: After posting this letter tomorrow I intend to clear outward from Noumea towards Brisbane. Assuming I get clearance in one day and the weather outlook remains favourable I hope to depart the following morning. At my yacht's average speed of 4 knots the 1,000 mile voyage could take about 10 days. Should I encounter light weather my average speed could drop to as little as 2 knots. Depending on the duration of the calm I may motor for some or all of the time, raising the average back up to 4 knots while I am under power.
If the weather becomes rough I may be obliged to heave to for the duration of the blow, thus making little or negative progress. Should the wind turn adverse I will be forced to tack to windward, cutting my average speed in half, or bear off for a different port of entry.
Were this to happen, and I believe from study of the pilot charts it is likely, I may make for either Bundaberg or Gladstone. Failing that I may make landfall in Mackay. Therefore I am advising that the yacht................. is to be expected at a clearance port on the Australian coast within the next 12 to 30 days. God willing, and barring accidents, Acts of God or enemies of the State.

Yours faithfully etc...

 From TCP 24

I know I am probably wasting your time but these customs articles are starting to needle me, can I ask if you have sent a copy of these articles to any of the worthwhile media in this country (that's a small private joke) like the 7.30 report ie Kerry O'Brien?
Howard’s new terrorist laws scare the crap out of me and their abuse by some of the people appointed to uphold them is beyond comprehension ie Phillip Ruddock.
Australians should be made aware of the fact that we live in a police state now. Please convey my apologies to those people bullied by our customs Nazis and please let them know that Australians aren't as bad as these clowns portray us. If I can help in any way please let me know.
Ashamed to be Australian
Bill Naylor

From TCP 16

 Boarded in our Bundaberg Berth

Tom and Bonnie
American Sailing Vessel Toujours

We are a US documented boat, we retired in 1997, have lived aboard for eleven years, cruised to many, many countries in the last eight years, been in Australia the last eighteen months, cruised the Queensland coast from Brisbane to Cooktown, and Toujours a 1984 53' Amel is our home. We have been in Port Bundaberg Marina since June. One of the best marina's on the East coast of Australia.
Sunday was a beautiful sunny Queensland day. Maintenance projects were completed for the most part and we were relaxing below. Bonnie was reading and I was catching up on our e-mail when I heard someone board the boat. I stepped up the companionway and had a Customs agent right in my face. I asked her why she had come aboard and she immediately became defensive stating, "We can board any vessel, anywhere, and anytime." (Silly me, I thought they had to have JUST CAUSE.) I replied that may be, but, it is no excuse for bad manners and bad Judgment. I was initially very angry that a stranger had the right to invade your home. (Boating etiquette and common courtesy say; you should knock and wait to be invited aboard. This gives the live a boards time to put some clothes on, unentangle themselves from possibly embarrassing situations, and be presentable to the person or guest). Apparently Etiquette is not in their vocabulary. The "pretense" for
the boarding was she wanted to pick up our expired cruising permit and look at the date of the new mooring permit she had issued less than two weeks ago. She claimed she knocked; however, I was sitting right next to the companionway and definitely did not hear a knock. Both of us continually asked her to get off the boat; she refused, and it was pretty apparent that she was thoroughly enjoying herself. Needless to say, I was quite angry, which in retrospect, was not the best way to handle this, sarcasm in this case would probably have been a better response. Give them the power and they will abuse it.

The easiest thing in the world to do is criticize anything; therefore, I try not to unless I can propose a solution. Customs would have to do a 180 degree attitude change and encourage cruisers to be compatriots and assist them in patrolling the 40,000 kilometres of Australia coast instead of having an adversarial relationship. It has the potential of multiplying their eyes and ears by a hundred fold.

We definitely think you are doing the right thing by bringing attention to these obnoxious practices; there is a free sailing rag in California, Latitude 38, and they have successfully encouraged the San Diego Harbor Police to stop harassing anchored boats and start helping them. They have also led a successful campaign to stop US Coast Guard arbitrary boarding's in the San Francisco Area. They certainly have upped everyone's awareness of bad attitudes on the part of officials. Keep up the good work.

Tom and Bonnie
Sailing Vessel Toujours





From TCP 23

From; Anne and Brian 'Hybreasail’

Dear Bob,

The new rules regarding entering Australian waters need to be looked at.
One point to consider looking at is in relation to the anti-fouling laws. Lucky for us we had just anti-fouled our boat before leaving for the Louisiades and I had a receipt on me for the purchase of the anti-foul. Even though I showed them the receipt they still put a camera under my boat and asked me had I scrubbed the hull down before I had left the Louisiades. I said no (I wonder what they would have done if I had said yes?).
I believe that if the hulls had not been to their liking I would have had to take the boat out within two weeks and re: anti- foul etc.
Another point is the 96 hours minimum notice required by customs to enter or re-enter Australian waters. We, along with many other yachts in the Louisiades had HF radio, a couple of yachts had email and a couple had sat phone. The Australian government in their wisdom decided that the HF radio would not be monitored by them anymore and yachties who did not have email or sat phone found it very hard to make contact with customs in Australia. The Louisiades being the remote place that it is had no phones in working order at the time of our departure and email has not been invented there yet. We were lucky to have a HF contact in Australia who contacted customs for us. Our contact stated that the customs were very helpful but they still wanted to know what day and what time we would be arriving (don't they know anything about the weather). Our contact told them that if they could guarantee 15 to 20 knots east south east with no tidal influences then we could give them a time. Customs still insisted that we had to make a berth booking with the Marlin Marina before they would come and look at us, as they had no berth of their own. I found out later that even though they do not monitor HF radio anymore (another Australian Govt blunder) that the customs knew what time and when we were arriving, apparently they were listening in to my HF radio skeds with other yachties when we were coming back from the Louisiades into Australia. Listening but not monitoring is an interesting point. Moral of the story is don't say anything on any radio if you don't want it to be heard (big brother is listening).
I know of one yachty who got into trouble for not giving the required notice, and for all I know there could be more.
The HF radio is still so important overseas, with a couple of yachties getting together and forming a network called the dim dim net and skeds were kept every night at 20 hundred hours. This way we would get weather reports, and keep contact with most of the yachts coming to, in and leaving the Louisiades, this way we kept an eye on each-other. Similar to the Sheila net, but much more relevant to the needs of those in the Louisiades. Dim dim is the name given to the white man by the natives of the Louisiades.
We had a great time in the Louisiades and would recommend it as a sailing destination for anyone wishing to do an overseas trip. The Papua New Guinea people are the happiest group of people that we have ever come in contact with. They have very little, they love to see the yachties, and are eager to trade. So take plenty of trading goods.
Happy Sailing,
Anne and Brian 'Hybreasail’



Whitsunday Wallopers Week....

From TCP 12

(Enough #$&@#$^* Surveillance!!)
By Frank Stoove, SY Escondido

We left Brisbane in May 2003, heading north to warmer weather and fun in
the sun. We had worked the off season to top up the cruising kitty and make
sure everything on the boat works and the boat does it's main job, keeping
the water out.
All the usual hurry and bustle in preparation for the trip included a quick
check of the “safety equipment”. Current year Queensland Registration, date
stamped flares, date stamped fire extinguishers, date stamped EPIRB………
It is important in Queensland waters to be kept safe from bureaucratic
aggravation, so we toe the line of least resistance and pay.
By the time we arrive in the 'Whits' in August we are fairly laid back.
Good company, good weather and good anchorages in the occasional blow
been the theme for this cruise. Apart from a pesky back injury and some
Minor maintenance, we have suffered very few problems or financial
setbacks this year.
So here we are in paradise, it is Sunday, the anchorage at Burning Point is
calm as can be. About eight boats nicely spread in the bay, it does not get
much better than this. Except, as the philosopher once said, “you have to pay
your dues.”

A large planing hull launch came round the corner, the word PATROL
emblazoned on the side. 'The Revenuers' had arrived. Being fine and calm
and race week, the opportunity for a little extra by way of a Sunday penalty
pay had brought the Queensland Navy out of harbour.
First job, bring the big boat in and lurk around the anchorage while the
anonymity afforded by the reflective glass wheelhouse allows the troops to
survey their likely targets. After the initial intimidation tactic, launch the
tender and attempt to board every vessel in the anchorage. The object being
to officially extort enough money from rat race escapees to pay for the day

The next day, still wondering how such an expensive operation in equipment
and time can possibly pay, or achieve any improvement in safety, we begin
to hear a new intrusion into our sense of freedom. The VHF is alive, on
channel 16 an authoritative voice from Australian Customs Vessel “Dame
Rona Mitchell” interrogates each passing sailing boat between Cape Conway
and Shaw Island, in the Whitsunday Passage, as to their identity, skippers
name, port of registry, last port of call and where bound? The previous day's
experience has still not receded from my mind, and the intrusion on the
radio raises my blood pressure. Then, 'round the corner', at high speed,
comes a 25' RIB, seven people all facing forward with a distinct military
look about them. Coming alongside each vessel in the anchorage the crew
are certainly intimidating in appearance with their navy uniforms, flak
jackets, dark glasses and side arms.

The Customs Service it seems is just showing the flag. As they come
alongside they have every appearance of being the SAS team about to board
the 'Tampa'. The person in charge says they are just on an informal visit,
“nothing formal,” he says with a dismissive wave as I enquire what can we
do for you sir. His pistol and flak jacket must be ideal morning tea attire.
Then the brief interrogation by the female crew member about registration,
origin, destination and a shouted query from the rear as to whether we
personally own the yacht. That's it then, and the coxswain opens full throttle
away from us to have a 'little chat' with the trailer sailer on the beach.

As the goons race from boat to boat in the anchorage,I am once again given
cause to wonder if I am in the same country I grew up in. Furious with the
intrusion, we decide to head up to Cid Harbour. The afternoon seabreeze gets
us past Dent Island and we motor into Cid that night about 8PM.
We rise to a beautiful calm morning. Prepare a fruit breakfast and a cup of
coffee and up into the cockpit to watch the sun come over the Whitsunday
Peak and fill the bay with light. To my dismay the first boat lit by the sun is
the 'Dame Rona Mitchell', Customs Vessel, 120' of grey menace. This bay
has about 40 boats in it this morning, all waiting for an informal visit from
the government's border protection policy. This is not 'Aunty', the
entertainment offered is surely costing us more than '8 cents a day'!
Sure enough by morning tea time the wallopers are out in their 'tender'.
But this time the tone is a little lighter. Three men in navy T-shirts with
inflatable life vests. Same questions, god knows what Godfrey Urban the
bare boat charter skipper will make of them, “Good morning sir, what is
your home port?” “Um, Directors Special?”

Three days in a row we have had the pleasure of official intrusion, enough
is enough! But wait, is that the Quarantine service I see? Sure enough, Race
Week in the Whitsundays is too much temptation for the most dedicated of
bureaucrats with a boat. AQIS is out and about too! Do we intend to travel
overseas? Have we been to Torres Strait? Do you intend to go to Torres
Strait? And on and on and on.

Surely there is a way to encourage safe boating and citizenship without the
expense and aggravation of trying to run a police state. If spin doctors could
be released from their political duties to provide a few clues to bureaucracy
about public relations and effective message communication, I am sure the
cost of running the Queensland Navy (Boating and Fisheries, National
Parks Service), Water Police, Customs, VMR, AQIS, could be reduced
to one or two small police vessels in each port, and a man at the boat ramp,
with a brief to enforce and advise rather than try to treat us all as potential
criminals. Leave the Navy to transport Customs and Immigration and
Quarantine, how many admirals can we afford? Local vigilance and
communication instead of bureaucratic empire building.