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Thursday, 2 September 1999
Page: 9801

Mr BEAZLEY —My question is to the Attorney-General. Has the Attorney-General seen an article in today's Australian headed `UN police demand danger money'? Why have the Australian Federal Police serving with the UN in East Timor been refused a level of allowance promised to them by the AFP when initially deployed? Further, will he investigate the suggestion that is contained in this article that:

. . . the Government pocketed a UN mission subsistence allowance while they were based in Darwin prior to deployment. During this period, police stayed in what they called "Tin City"—converted shipping containers.

Is the government aware that these officers have worked under great adversity, all facing threats and several facing armed attacks from members of the pro-integrationist militia which have included being fired on and stoned? Will he now investigate the grievances of the officers and ensure that they are ameliorated?

Mr WILLIAMS (Attorney-General) —I am grateful for the opportunity that the question by the Leader of the Opposition presents to set the record straight in this regard. When the concerns of the AFP personnel deployed to East Timor, which are reflected in the article in the Australian referred to by the Leader of the Opposition, were brought to the attention of the Minister for Justice and Customs, she immediately asked the Federal Police Commissioner to review them as a matter of urgency. I am advised that the AFP is seeking a further review of the threat assessment, which determines the level of mission allowance paid to not only police but also defence personnel deployed to UNAMET. Travelling allowance will be paid in accordance with the determination of conditions of service made by the commissioner, on which members were fully briefed prior to their deployment. It should be understood that some components of the UN allowance cross-relate with the Australian government allowances. These need to be separated. The short answer is that the members will in fact receive further payment.

I am also advised by the commissioner that the AFP did not receive any UN mission subsistence allowance during the member deployment to Darwin. The UN paid the appropriate allowance direct to individual members, in accordance with their normal practice. From the information I have received, AFP personnel have displayed considerable professionalism and courage in the work they are doing for UNAMET. I have been assured that the members will receive their full entitlements and recognition for the important role that they play.