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Book Review: Australian Offshore Laws Print E-mail

book_aust_offshore_laws.jpgBy Michael White

Published by The Federation Press1 2009

Reviewed by Robert Quirk

When this book came up for review I jumped at the chance to review it. This was because, as a legal officer in the RAAF Specialist Reserve, I thought that it would be a great resource for a legal officer to have when advising in the Defence context. I was not disappointed.

Australian Offshore Laws has the following chapters: Introduction and Background to Offshore Laws; Offshore Constitutional Laws; Offshore Petroleum, Mining and Installations Laws; Offshore Criminal Laws; Offshore Defence Laws; Offshore Immigration Laws; Offshore Fisheries Laws; Offshore Customs, Quarantine and Excise Laws; Antarctic and Southern Oceans Territories Laws; Offshore Territories Laws; Offshore Shipping Laws; Offshore Geographical Areas and Summary and Proposals for Reform. The Annexures also include a number of important constitutional settlement documents.  

The Introduction and Background to Offshore Laws and each of the chapters provide appropriate background, including cases, to the laws dealt with in each of the chapters. This background provides the reader with a good understanding of the context and genesis of the laws dealt with in the particular chapter.

Each chapter is well set out with clear section and sub-section headings. For example, the chapter on Offshore Defence Laws, includes the following section headings: Introduction; Defence Force Constitutional Framework; Structure and Administration of the Defence Force; Extent of Offshore Area; Ordinary Border Protection Powers; Counter-Terrorism Operations; Restrictions on the Use of Force; Defence of Superior Orders; Cooperation with Police; Military Commissions; Piracy; Salvage Claims; and Conclusions. Many of the other chapters include sections on leading and significant cases in the area.

Chapter 9, on Antarctica and Southern Ocean Territories Laws, includes a section on whaling. This section discusses a number of the international and national legal issues that arise from that activity in Australia’s Exclusive Economic Zone (“EEZ”) and the Southern Ocean. It was of particular interest given the recent media attention devoted to whaling issues.

The breadth and depth of the material covered means that it is a good primer for the subject as well as a great resource for those whose practices touch or overlap the offshore jurisdiction. Every Defence lawyer involved in operations law should have a copy of this book.

In the preface, Dr White states that one of the reasons that he wrote the book was to bring together a reference to all laws that apply to offshore Australian waters to provide a starting point for the benefit of practitioners, regulators, academics and students. This objective has been achieved.

Dr White has an outstanding reputation in maritime law.2 Australian Offshore Laws is a great work that reinforces, expands and enhances that reputation. His book is one that I am glad to have on my shelf. It will be one of the first legal resources packed on exercise.

Robert Quirk


  1. The publisher’s web page for the book is http://www.federationpress.com.au/bookstore/book.asp?isbn=9781862877429.
  2. A list of Dr. White’s publications published as part of the University of Queensland Institute of Marine Studies web site is at http://www.marine.uq.edu.au/publications---prof--michael-white.

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