THE HON SIMON CREAN MP
Minister for Regional Australia
THE HON BRENDAN O’CONNOR MP
Minister for Home Affairs and Justice
THE HON WARREN SNOWDON MP
Minister for Defence Science and Personnel
Member for Lingiari
3 February 2011
The trial of a radar surveillance system has begun on Christmas Island, progressing one of the key recommendations of the Customs Internal Review into the recent tragedy on the island.
The trial aims to determine whether a land-based radar to survey the northern approaches to the island could reliably identify potential arrivals, particularly in adverse weather conditions.
Minister for Regional Australia Simon Crean and Minister for Defence Science and Personnel Warren Snowdon are today visiting Christmas Island.
Mr Crean says he’s pleased the trial has started after radar equipment was delivered and installed on the island in recent weeks.
“The five month trial is now underway and will run until June,” Mr Crean said.
“We’re interested in pursuing all options to assess the best border protection methods for Australia and the community of Christmas Island,” Mr Crean said.
Minister for Defence Science and Personnel and local member, Warren Snowdon says the Defence Science and Technology Organisation is undertaking the trial for Border Protection Command.
“The Defence Science and Technology Organisation will assess the capability of the radar by simulating arrival situations and testing the radar’s ability to detect such arrivals,” Mr Snowdon said.
“The Organisation will conduct a controlled trial, using mock vessels constructed of wood in a variety of weather conditions typically experienced around the island.”
The Minister for Home Affairs, Brendan O’Connor, said the start of the trial also marks the fulfilment of one of the recommendations of the Customs Internal Review released last week.
“At the moment we don’t know how useful such a radar would be on Christmas Island and we’re aware that there are some limitations to such technology,” Mr O’Connor said.
“That’s why we need to test the technology to see if it would be a useful addition to our surveillance techniques and suit the environment of Christmas Island,” Mr O’Connor said.
“The outcomes of this trial will help to inform us about whether a permanent radar system should be established on Christmas Island and any limitations the technology the may have,” he said.
The ability of radar to detect vessels can be affected by the size and construction of vessels, geography and the environmental conditions.
All costs of the trial are being met within the existing budgets of participating agencies.
On 15 December last year, a suspected irregular entry vessel crashed against the rocks at Christmas Island killing at least 30 people. Border Protection Command personnel rescued 41 people from the water, while one man reached safety by himself.
A Customs Internal Review made eight recommendations, all of which are being acted on through the Border Protection Taskforce.
Media Contact (O’Connor): Jayne Stinson 0458 547 512 firstname.lastname@example.org
Media Contact (Crean): Clinton Porteous 0403 369 588 email@example.com