It gives me great pleasure to launch Prof Michael White’s latest book entitled Australia’s Offshore Laws, which has been published by a the Federation Press. Michael has had a distinguished career. Born in Brisbane, he joined the Australian Navy where he rose to Lt Commander. In 1969 he left the Navy to study law at the University of Queensland and later at Bond University, where he was awarded degrees and commerce, law and eventually a Ph.D. in law.
After practising as a barrister for 16 years, he became a Queen’s Counsel in 1988. In 1999, he joined the University of Queensland and became the inaugural Director of the Centre for Maritime Law. Michael has been a active member of the Centre for Marine Studies over the past several years, and has been highly productive in terms of writing. In this regard, he has produced several books now as part of his role within the centre. Today, we are here to celebrate one of his latest outputs, where he has pulled together all of the Australian offshore laws into one place. Given the scale and complexity of this area, this is quite a significant feat indeed. And the subject matter is very timely.
In a world that is increasingly becoming global – not only through its economic systems but also through the challenges that face it faces from a burgeoning population to a rapidly changing climate – the need for Australia to have a clear perspective on the laws that govern its offshore waters couldn’t be more important. These are the legal instruments with which a vast number of resources and challenges are regulated – from fisheries, immigration, defence, customs and resource extraction.
You only have to think of the recent pressure on Australian resources both internally and externally, and the recent kerfuffle over refugees in our north-west waters to understand how important these laws and regulations are in terms of Australia’s well being. But as Michael has pointed out in the preface, our current structures within this area are “disparate, uncoordinated and overlapping”.
As Michael comments repeatedly in the book, this area is in need of important reform. It looks like he will be getting his wish – the Commonwealth Attorney General announced in September 2009 that the government would be pursuing reform in this area through a bill that will be introduced in 2010 called the “Maritime Powers Bill “. This book looks like it will be one of the key supporting resources for this bill and the subsequent reform of Australia’s offshore laws.
Well done Michael!
“Australian Offshore Laws”
Published 26 November 2009
Publisher The Federation Press
Australian RRP $195.00