Private companies have today been invited by the Minister for Justice and Customs, Senator Chris Ellison, to tender for a series of vital contracts for surveillance of Australia’s 37,000 km coastline and massive maritime zone from 2007 onwards.
Releasing a Request for Tender (RFT) for Australia’s civil maritime surveillance operation, which is run by Coastwatch, Senator Ellison said private firms played a crucial role in protecting Australia’s borders from illicit drugs, illegal arrivals, disease and other threats to our nation’s welfare.
“The announcement today seeks tenders to start from July 2007, after the current surveillance contracts expire, showing that the Government is planning ahead for our future border protection needs,” he said.
Earlier this week, the Prime Minister announced that all current Coastwatch contracts, using 17 fixed wing aircraft and helicopters based in Broome, Darwin, Cairns and the Torres Strait, would continue until June 2007.
Senator Ellison said the RFT for the Coastwatch Civil Maritime Surveillance 2004 (CMS04) Project involves an investment in Australia’s border protection approaching $1 billion over the next 12 years.
Senator Ellison said tenders were being sought for two services:
--Service A - full surveillance service delivery to the inshore and offshore zones of the Australian Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) and remote areas, complemented by a wide area surveillance capability for use predominantly south of the Tropic of Capricorn, and
--Service B - provision of a helicopter surveillance and response service for the Torres Strait.
“Coastwatch manages the frontline of Australia’s civil border defences, providing surveillance coverage for 37,000 kilometres of coastline and our exclusive maritime zone which extends out to 200 nautical miles,”
Senator Ellison said.
“Its work is crucial in the detection and reporting of people smuggling, gun and drug smuggling, illegal fishing, trafficking in flora and fauna and environmental crime.
“Each year, Coastwatch co-ordinates nearly 150 million square nautical miles of surveillance coverage as part of an integrated network managed by the National Surveillance Centre in Canberra.“
As part of the tender, the role of any new technologies offered (such as satellites, Unmanned Aerial Vehicles or a combination of these technologies with current fixed and rotary wing aircraft technology) will be closely assessed.
With one of the longest coastlines and largest maritime zones in the world to protect, it is essential that the Australian Government continue to look closely at suitable new technology to provide the greatest degree possible of efficiency.
Industry has been closely consulted throughout the tender process.
New Border Protection Contracts Sought to Bolster Maritime Surveillance