Friday, 15 April 2005
State Water Police in Tasmania started conducting a major counter-drugs exercise today, stopping and searching pleasure boats and coastal vessels newly arrived from the mainland.
"The exercise will continue for about a week" the Tasmanian Police Commissioner stated. "We're also conducting exercises at many of the smaller airports, so private aviation is now being diverted to Launceston and Hobart to avoid delays."
As with the rest of the country, Passengers travelling to and arriving from the mainland via commercial airlines have also been inconvenienced by the extensive checks on baggage instituted recently as the result of the bombings in Sydney.
The Police Comissioner denied any connection between the exercise and the Sydney Bombings, though he added that such an exercise would also be useful for counter-terror purposes, so the long-planned exercise had been moved up.
Tasmania is one of the few places in the world where Opium poppies are grown legally in commercial quantities, and consequently the State Government there has one of the strictest and most heavily resourced drug-enforcement programmes in the country.
"Tasmania has a population of approximately 300,000, and so strangers or strange vehicles really stand out." the Police Commissioner said.
Hobart, the capital, has a population of 50,000.