Australian government has rejected a coroner’s recommendation that people boarding leisure cruise ships undergo drug screenings and sniffer dog inspections, following the death of Dianne Brimble nearly 10 years ago.
Brimble, 42, died on board a South Pacific P&O cruise ship, Pacific Sky, in September 2002 after consuming a toxic mix of the drug fantasy and alcohol.
After a lengthy inquest, NSW senior deputy state coroner Jacqueline Milledge in December 2010 made nine recommendations to the government, arguing Australia should adopt laws similar to the US legislation regulating the cruise ship industry.
Specifically, she recommended increased drug detection and deterrent procedures – including the use of scanners and drug detection dogs – by the Ports Authority and Australian Customs plus a federal police presence on voyages to prevent similar tragedies occurring in the future.
Attorney-General Nicola Roxon today released the government’s response to the recommendations, saying it would accept five, wholly or in part.
It will refer some to a parliamentary committee to examine what improvements can be made to existing laws as well as consider issues raised by Brimble’s former husband Mark Brimble.
But Ms Roxon said some of the coroner’s recommendations would require Australia to act “inconsistently” with its international obligations and could not be accepted.
“These include the coroner’s recommendation that Australian Federal Police officers be attached to all ships and consideration of legislation similar to the United States’ Kerry Act…” her department said in a statement.
“As to the coroner’s recommendation in relation the use of drug detector dogs and drug screening at all Australian ports, the government has not agreed … as it is of the view that the current approach to managing border risks is appropriate and sufficient.”
In late 2010, Ms Milledge concluded Brimble, a mother of three, was “unknowingly drugged by unscrupulous individuals who were intent on denigrating her for their own gratification”.
“The manner of death is the administration of the drug by a known person,” she said at the time.
A manslaughter charge against Mark Wilhelm, in whose cabin Brimble’s naked body was found after they had sex, was dropped earlier in 2010.
After pleading guilty to supplying her with the drug, Wilhelm was spared a jail term by a judge who noted the charge related to supply to a consenting adult.
In her findings, Ms Milledge rejected the suggestion that Brimble was a willing participant in taking the drug and subsequent sexual acts with a number of men.