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Tuesday, 28 April 1987
Page: 1931

(Question No 1613)

Senator Colston asked the Minister representing the Minister for Defence, upon notice, on 18 February 1987:

(1) Were defence force helicopters used in a police raid in Queensland on 3 February 1987; if so, how many helicopters and defence service personnel were involved.

(2) How many police personnel were transported in each helicopter and what arms were these persons carrying.

(3) Were the helicopters or the service personnel armed and, if so, what are the details.

(4) Were regular or reserve military or other service police involved in any way, including pre-raid planning.

(5) Who made the request for defence force assistance and what was the nature of the request.

(6) Who approved the request.

(7) Was the Queensland Government or the Queensland Police Department charged for the Commonwealth equipment used and if so, what was charged.

Senator Gareth Evans —The Minister for Defence has provided the following answer to the honourable senator's question:

(1) Defence Force helicopters, from RAAF Amberley, were used in a police raid on a drug farm in the Coomera area of Queensland on 3 February 1987. Five RAAF Iroquois helicopters and 13 service personnel were involved in the operation.

(2) A total of 23 police personnel were transported in the helicopters (two helicopters each carried six police, two carried five in each and one policeman was in the final aircraft); the police were armed with shotguns, M16 semi-automatic rifles, sub-machine guns and pistols.

(3) Neither the helicopters nor any service personnel were armed.

(4) No regular, reserve or other service police were involved in any way, including pre-raid planning.

(5) The request for the Defence Force assistance was made in writing by the Coordinator-General of the Queensland Premiers Department to the Officer Commanding RAAF Base Amberley. The text of the request was as follows:

`The Commissioner of Police is desirous of obtaining the assistance of the Defence Force in a crime investigation currently in progress.

The assistance sought is the provision of helicopters to transport about 25 personnel to a provincial centre near Brisbane in connection with the cultivation of marijuana at a known location. The Police Department is unable to undertake this activity with the limited resources available from within the Department or from civilian organizations.

An undertaking is given that Defence Force personnel will not be put into a situation whereby they will be required to use force. The operation, if approval is given, will take place on Tuesday, 3 February 1987 and will be code named Operation Colours.

The Queensland Government strongly supports the request by the Commissioner of Police and I am therefore writing to request that approval be sought from the Commonwealth Minister for Defence for the use by the Queensland Police Department of Defence Force helicopters.'

(6) The request was approved by the Chief of the Defence Force.

(7) Neither the Queensland Government or the Queensland Police Departments were charged for the Commonwealth equipment used.