(Opposition Leader) Kim Beazley today introduced into Parliament a bill, which seeks to establish a US style Coast Guard for Australia.
If Mr. Beazley's Coast Guard Bill actually passed Kim Beazley says he would scrap the Request For Tender for the new Navy Patrol Boats, in order to save money for other purchases.
"The tender for this replacement should be, and under a Labor Government would be, given in the context of establishing an Australian Coast Guard. The significant difference between civil and military construction standards and systems would allow for a significant upgrading of our Coast Guard fleet without additional cost." (Kim Beazley Parliament House, September 24, 2001)
A scrapping of the tender process would set back the important replacement of the Patrol Boats by 6 to 12 months.
Even more disturbing however is Kim Beazley's lack of understanding of the current Request For Tender, which calls for vessels built to commercial or civil standards. This information is readily available in the publicly released Capability Plan.
"The Patrol Boat Capability is planned to comprise vessels of commercial design that comply with relevant classification society rules and appropriate statutory regulations." (Defense Capability Plan p.257)
Furthermore Kim Beazley says he would gut the Navy by taking the Patrol Boats and handing them to civilian operators. This would leave the RAN with no smaller combat capable vessels and rob it of vital training platforms.
The Government believes the Royal Australian Navy does an excellent job working with Coastwatch to protect our Coastline.
The Government further believes this is a role the Australian people want to see their Defense force play.
According to Kim Beazley's own report when he was a responsible minister, his US style Coast Guard would cost up to $2 billion dollars (in today's dollars) and was not necessary.
Coastwatch provides 24 hour a day, seven day a week patrols of our borders and detects 98.6% of illegal arrivals.