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Australian Minister for the Environment and Heritage
Senator the Hon. Ian Campbell
28 November 2006
The Australian Government is continuing its work to confirm whether the recently discovered wreck off Sydney is the missing World War II Japanese midget submarine M24, the Minister for the Environment and Heritage, Senator Ian Campbell said today.
“Yesterday the Royal Australian Navy vessel the HMAS Yarra, following a request from my Department, located the wreck and undertook a series of technical assessments using sonar and remotely operated camera equipment in order to authenticate it as the midget submarine,” Senator Campbell said.
“I expect to be able to make an official announcement in the next 24-36 hours. If proven to be the M24I will also outline some of the actions we will take to ensure that this important piece of the Australian heritage puzzle is conserved and protected for future generations.
“The Australian Government has provisionally declared the wreck to be an historic shipwreck under the Historic Shipwrecks Act. The declaration gives legal protection to the submarine and its relics from damage, disturbance or removal.
“Breaches of the Act carry a fine up to $10 000 or imprisonment of up to five years,” Senator Campbell said.
“Additionally, if it is confirmed that the wreck lies in Commonwealth waters, the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act will protect it from actions that will or are likely to have a significant impact on its heritage values.”
The fate of the two crew members of the M24 has not been resolved and the Government continues to work with the Japanese Government to ensure the issue is handled sensitively.
“The Australian Government is discussing with the Japanese and New South Wales Governments the long term management of the wreck, and the appropriate way to respect any remains of the deceased Japanese sailors,” Senator Campbell said.
Rob Broadfield 02 6277 7640 or 04094 93902