Australia’s Border Protection Commander has used the occasion of a traditional ceremony in Darwin to draw attention to an increasing role to be played by the Royal Australian Navy in monitoring the security of the offshore oil and gas industry under the new Federal Government.
RAN sailors marched through central Darwin, exercising the right of Freedom of Entry to the city.
Rear Admiral David Johnston did not comment on the Government’s shift in border protection and asylum seeker policies, but said the RAN was responding to orders focused on border security.
“[It is] a significant investment in the offshore oil and gas industry, right across the north-west of Australia,” he said.
“That is an important national resource for us and it is an important border role that the Navy performs in working around those areas, ensuring we understand what is occurring and where we need to provide security.”
The Freedom of Entry parade is a throwback to centuries-old traditions signifying the protective role of armed forces and their rights to bear arms.
Darwin Lord Mayor Katrina Fong Lim said the event also signified the role the Navy plays in protecting Darwin and Australia.
“I believe that these civic activities are really important to Darwin,” she said.
Today’s parade marked 47 years since the RAN was first granted Freedom of Entry to Darwin, when it helped in the aftermath of Cyclone Tracy.
More than 80 sailors took part in the parade and were joined by contingents from the visiting Royal Thai Navy Offshore Patrol Vessel HTMS Krabi and members of the Australian Navy Cadets.