Effective surveillance and interdiction?
an evaluation of policy failure in Canberra's response to illegal fishing and immigration in Australia's northern waters

  • Thomas A Lewis

    Student thesis: Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) - CDU


    Australia has experienced fishing attempts and efforts by refugees to gain entry through its northern waters. Detections and detentions of both types have steadily increased, and this has attracted vigorous discussion, responses and policy formulation. A host of agencies and departments have driven policy and operations. This study outlines the development of some agencies and their changing roles, and assesses their efficiency.

    The central points are that governments - up until the arrival of the ship Tampa in Australian waters - have failed to act proactively in a key area of security. Policy has been made largely by events dictating change, and this mindset and behaviour continue today.

    The thesis examines conceptual and methodological models of policy development and analyses policymaking within federal politics, establishing that confusion and mismanagement have beset policies and management of surveillance and interdiction. It suggests these problems still exist; figures representing some surveillance and incursion activities are inaccurate, and there are further solutions to many of these problems.

    The thesis takes as its benchmark the years of 1990-2000, when detections and detentions of illegal fishing and illegal immigrant vessels markedly increased. The legal context related to offshore estate management is outlined. The thesis defines the players and agencies, aggressors such as foreign fishing vessels and illegal immigrant vessels, reactors in the shape of Coastwatch, the Royal Australian Navy, and neutral parties such as the fishing industry. Media and public attitudes are measured, both areas seen as policy change agents.

    The thesis is concerned with explaining the causes of inadequacy (or failure) in a key area of national public policy. The key research questions are establishing what policies have been formulated; how policy came about, and why policy and operations have failed. The work concludes with proposal for policy reform.
    Date of Award2003
    Original languageEnglish
    SupervisorDennis Shoesmith (Supervisor)

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