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Monday, 21 October 2002
Page: 8104

Ms HALL (2:32 PM) —My question is to the Prime Minister. Can the Prime Minister confirm that the Department of Defence received an internal memo prepared by the principal security adviser of the Defence Security Authority on 27 August 2002 concerning the state of security for Western and Australian citizens in Indonesia, including Bali? Prime Minister, could you advise the House whether this information was passed on to the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade or others responsible for the preparation of security and travel warnings for Australian citizens?

Mr HOWARD (Prime Minister) —I understand that the question from the member for Shortland—and she will correct me if I am wrong—relates to the Department of Defence originated email that was referred to in the media over the weekend. Is that correct?

Ms Hall —Yes.

Government members interjecting

Mr HOWARD —I am not trying to be clever about this.

The SPEAKER —I respect the dilemma that the member for Shortland found herself in. She is welcome to respond to the Prime Minister through the chair.

Ms Hall —Yes, it was the memo received.

Mr HOWARD —There have been different descriptions given to the same communication, and I just wanted to isolate it. I naturally had that checked out and I have been advised as follows. Defence did not have any information available to suggest that there was a specific threat in Bali. Defence security staff did not have access to any material not available to and being considered by other agencies and taken into account in threat assessments and travel advisories. On the information available to me, that email is being misinterpreted, and some of the reporting of the email is not consistent with its content.