- Parliamentary Business
- Senators and Members
- News & Events
- About Parliament
- Visit Parliament
Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
Table Of Contents
Previous Fragment Next Fragment
- Start of Business
- ELECTORAL DIVISION OF GWYDIR
- MINISTERIAL ARRANGEMENTS
QUESTIONS WITHOUT NOTICE
DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORT AND COMMUNICATIONS: SALE OF AIRCRAFT
(Mr BLUNT, Mr WILLIS)
(Mr MOUNTFORD, Mr HAWKE)
(Mr PEACOCK, Mr KEATING)
(Mr BILNEY, Mr HAWKE)
(Mr SPENDER, Mr HAWKE)
PUBLIC SECTOR BORROWING
(Mr GEAR, Mr KEATING)
(Mr SHACK, Dr BLEWETT)
SOCIAL POLICY DEVELOPMENT
(Mr SNOWDON, Mr HOWE)
ABORIGINAL AND TORRES STRAIT ISLANDER COMMISSION
(Mr MILES, Mr HAND)
WHEAT MARKETING ARRANGEMENTS
(Mr COURTICE, Mr KERIN)
- DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORT AND COMMUNICATIONS: SALE OF AIRCRAFT
- PRESENTATION OF PAPERS
- PERSONAL EXPLANATIONS
- NATIONAL OCCUPATIONAL HEALTH AND SAFETY COMMISSION AMENDMENT BILL 1988
- JOINT STANDING COMMITTEE ON FOREIGN AFFAIRS, DEFENCE AND TRADE
- ECONOMY: LIVING STANDARDS
- TARIFF PROPOSALS
- OZONE PROTECTION BILL 1988
- OZONE PROTECTION (LICENCE FEES-IMPORTS) BILL 1988
- OZONE PROTECTION (LICENCE FEES-MANUFACTURE) BILL 1988
- TAXATION LAWS AMENDMENT BILL (No. 3) 1988
- AGED OR DISABLED PERSONS HOMES AMENDMENT BILL 1988
Monday, 6 March 1989
Mrs KELLY (Minister for Defence Science and Personnel)(3.38) —I thank the House for the cooperative spirit in which this issue has been debated. As the Prime Minister (Mr Hawke) and the Minister for Defence (Mr Beazley) have said, uniformed Australians have an outstanding record in United Nations (UN) peacekeeping forces. From Korea to Cyprus, to Lebanon and Iran, Australian police and military personnel have been keeping the peace. Often that peace has been uneasy and fragile, as the battles of long time enemies have flared up again along disputed borders or between traditional rivals. Keeping the peace in troubled lands, trying to implement on the ground the complex strategies of mediators and envoys, is no sinecure: it is tough, difficult and enormously valuable work.
The peace plan for Namibia has been long in the making, as the Prime Minister and the Minister for Defence have said, and much delayed in its implementation. Now, after 10 years, it is time for the plan to be tested; it is time for the Australian Defence Force (ADF) to make its contribution; and it will. It is a contribution from all Australians and tangible evidence of our commitment to peace in the world. For the 300 men who are going to Namibia, it is a very personal commitment. I have visited the Namibian contingent twice, accompanied on my most recent visit by my colleague the Minister for Industrial Relations (Mr Peter Morris). I was most impressed with the calibre of the troops we are sending, the quality of their leadership and equipment, and their good spirits and high morale. Colonel Richard Warren and his second-in-command, Lieutenant-Colonel Kevin Pippard, were in New York attending the United Nations Transitional Assistance Group (UNTAG) contingent commanders brief, but Colonel Peter Rose, the Commandant of the Land Command engineers, took me around, along with Major David Crago, who is leading the 238 men of the 17th Construction Squadron, UNTAG, to Namibia. I must say that I was particularly impressed with the leadership of the officers who will lead this contingent.
I was invited to a lunch at Holsworthy, where I had a chance to meet members of the contingent and talk with them about their concerns and feelings on the eve of their deployment. They all knew that they were going into danger. No doubt for many of them there was regret at the thought of leaving their families behind. But all were quite clear about one thing above all: that they were going to Namibia for a good reason, for a really worthwhile purpose. They take with them all our best wishes and our unanimous support. Along with our goodwill, they deserve tangible evidence that we appreciate what they are doing for us and for the cause of peace in the world.
A package of conditions has been agreed on that recognises the unique and special character of the circumstances that these men will face in Africa. I will go into the details of the allowances in a moment, but I begin by expressing my pleasure at the efforts that will go into providing for the families of the men who are going to Namibia. Members of the contingent will be eligible for up to seven days of pre-embarkation leave to finalise their personal affairs and to make their farewells before they go. They will be able to keep in touch with their families and loved ones while they are in Namibia and Defence will meet the cost of postage to and from members of the contingent.
A support network, known as network 17, has been established to assist families. Based at No. 1 Construction Regiment at Holsworthy, the network includes a 008 information service which families can ring for advice and support. The families already have been called in. They have met with the officers and have had a full brief in regard to contact and the sort of support they will have. So the support network is already well in place.
Normal Defence Force allowances will be payable to members of the contingent. The transfer allowance of between $335 and $410 per member, depending on whether he lived in barracks or outside prior to departure, will be paid. Separation allowance for those who are separated from their families will be paid. Members of the contingent also will be eligible for an outlay allowance and an interest-free loan of $1,500 to assist in meeting costs associated with establishing themselves in an overseas country.
In Namibia the contingent will be divided into two groups: the headquarters staff in barracks in the capital and those who will be out in the field, mainly along the northern border. The headquarters staff will receive a special Namibia allowance of $22 a day. On top of this, the United Nations allowance of $1.52 is payable. Headquarters staff will pay rations and quarters charges at the Windhoek barracks through the commanding officer, although the commanding officer will be empowered to waive these charges if he finds the conditions there to be substandard. No rations and quarters charges will be paid by members of the contingent out in the field and their special allowance for Namibia will be paid at the rate of $35 a day as well as the UN allowance. These rates will be reviewed, but not diminished, soon after the contingent deploys to Namibia.
Allowances payable to members of the contingent will vary from $335 plus $23.52 a day for single members serving at headquarters to $410 plus $39.96 a day for a married member posted to the forward areas. The Treasurer (Mr Keating) has agreed that all pay and allowances for members of UNTAG will be free of tax. The decision dates from 18 February and the Treasurer will be seeking an amendment to section 23a (c) of the Income Tax Assessment Act to give effect to it. I would like to thank members of the House for their support of that initiative. Particularly, I would like to pay tribute to the Treasurer for his support. The Treasurer has proved by this decision that this Government is committed to the UN peacekeeping force. This is no empty gesture; it is a real and determined decision, which I welcome most warmly.
Honourable members opposite raised the issue of repatriation benefits. These benefits will be appropriate to the task and hazards that the contingent will meet. Currently we are examining the various options. Obviously, there are two categories: operational and peacekeeping. Basically, I am looking at trying to provide the best conditions possible for these people. Some people argue that better conditions are offered under the peacekeeping category. Others argue that better conditions exist under the operational category. Much will depend on the circumstances. As a minimum, these conditions will include: normal benefits under part 4 of the Veterans' Entitlements Act; 24-hour any occurrence cover for death or invalidity benefits while outside Australia; coverage under the Commonwealth Employees Rehabilitation and Compensation Act for 28 days after return; favourable standards of proof for cases; and limited rights to sue at common law. These are just the basic conditions and, as I said, we are looking in detail at the categories that they should fall into. The best interests of the troops are being taken into consideration, bearing in mind the threat scenario that they are going to be facing. No package of conditions can fully compensate for the hazards that Australia's contingent of UNTAG will be walking into, but conditions like the ones I have outlined are designed to take account of the difficulties that can be predicted and the separation from families and loved ones that necessarily accompany deployment such as this.
The Australian contingent to UNTAG will soon be deployed. To the 300 men directly involved, I extend my best wishes and personal thanks. They are joining a proud group of Australians, including my father, who, many years ago, was a member of the peacekeeping force in Cyprus. These men over the years have genuinely fought for peace. I wish them all the best of luck in their role of mediating in an area that has known the ravages of war for so many years. I wish them a safe return. I hope that their families feel compensated in some way by the packages we have allowed. I hope that the servicemen feel that at least this Government is looking after them and their families. They go in the hope, though not in the certain knowledge, of succeeding in their mission. The heartfelt good wishes of all peaceloving Australians and of everyone dedicated to the ideals of the UN everywhere go with the ADF contingent to be deployed to Namibia.