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Join Date: Oct 2006
Location: Sydney Australia
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Australia has an immigration/customs regulation that states any incoming vessel must notify Australian Customs no later than 96 hours prior to that impending arrival. Such notification is to made by fax, email or ssb radio. I may be wrong but I didn't think even a telephone was an acceptable form of communication and Customs say that as they don't monitor VHF only SSB is good enough.
From what I understand of this situation there are conflicting stories. The Manzaris claim that the Australian authorities in Noumea told them that the reporting period was 48 hours while the authorities claim they were fully informed of the 96 hour period. Nonetheless the information is required to be on a specific form, it would appear that no form of verbal communication would be sufficient. I do find it somewhat odd that anyone intending to arrive in a foreign country by yacht would not go to the trouble of obtaining all relevent information, fill out the required forms and have those forms approved before they sail.
Now had the Manzaris followed basic procedure they could have emailed or faxed their notification from Noumea and all would have been well. Instead they chose to lob into Oz without any warning and then claimed that they had received incorrect advice. I believe they were unable to provide the offending document.
Ok, on the other side of the coin, the brain dead morons who have been running this country for the past ten years, went, like so many other countries completely over the top regarding supposed homeland security after a certain incident in NYC a few years back. We have now changed to a new bunch of brain dead morons who may, MAY I SAY, behave a little more rationally but to be honest I doubt it.
I do not approve of these silly regulations, draconian is the word that comes to mind but as I am constantly reminded we live in a post 9/11 world. It seems to me that notifying immigration/customs of impending arrival by VHF radio within , say, 24 hours should be sufficient for anyone but rules are rules and these guys did ignore said rules completely, hoping I suspect that looking apologetic and promising not to do it again would suffice. Bit of a bugger for them but there you go.
One other thing, it is not uncommon for incoming yachts to land in one of Australia's unpopulated areas and not actually clear into the country for many weeks after they have actually arrived. Ignoring the somewhat silly security aspects the main concern for me here is the possible infestation of otherwise pristine environments with foreign marine organisms.
Patrolling a coastline as large as ours with as small a population as we have is bloody difficult at the best of times. Perhaps it is the difficulty of such patrolling that makes the authorities jump heavily on anyone caught infringing the rules, particularly when they appear to have little excuse for doing so.
BTW, these rules have been in force since 2006 and in that time I believe their have been only two such incidents resulting in court proceedings. How many incidents there have been that have resulted in nothing more than a slap on the wrist I do not know.
edit - all this information is readily available on the Australian Immigration Departments web site.
edit the second - couple of points. don't shoot the messenger
I think this regulation sucks. Also if Peter Russo took the case then I tend to think they were hard done by as he is a good man. I was also wrong in saying only two cases had gone to court, in fact it was three.
“Give a man a fire and he's warm for a day, but set fire to him and he's warm for the rest of his life.” Terry Pratchett
Last edited by tdw; 03-02-2008 at 05:50 AM.