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Friday, 15 June 1984
Page: 3227

(Question No. 879)


Senator Reid asked the Minister representing the Special Minister of State, upon notice, on 8 May 1984:

(1) Did the Australian Federal Police Rescue Squad search for and find Mr M. Sinnott and Mr Brett Meddermen on or about 30 April 1984; if so, how many searchers were involved, and from which organisations did they come.

(2) What amount of time was involved in the search and what vehicles or other equipment were involved.

(3) Had the Australian Federal Police Rescue Squad members been previously called out to search for either or both of these persons; if so, how many officers and vehicles were involved on that occasion, how long were they so engaged and on what date.

(4) What was the cost of the search on each of these occasions.

(5)Has any demand for payment been made to either of the persons referred to in question 1 to offset the search charges.


Senator Gareth Evans —The Special Minister of State has provided the following answer to the honourable senator's question:

(1) Yes, Messrs Sinnott and Meddermen were located by members of the Australian Federal Police Rescue Squad on 1 May 1984. A total of 28 personnel took part in the search. The organisational breakdown of the personnel involved is:

AFP Rescue Squad and support staff 17 Department of Territories and Local Government (DTLG) Ranger 1 Australian Capital Territory Emergency Service 4 New South Wales Police 1 New South Wales Parks and Wildlife Ranger 1 Royal Australian Air Force Helicopter crew 4

(2) The AFP were notified at 2214 hours Sunday, 29 April 1984 that the missing persons were overdue and it was confirmed that they were missing at 0800 hours the following day. The search was commenced at 0800 hours Monday 30 April 1984 and the missing persons were located by the AFP at 1340 hours Tuesday 1 May 1984 . The total period of the search was 29 hours, 40 minutes.

The following vehicles were involved:

AFP Command vehicle 1 Search vehicles (4WD) 5 Mobile Communications Unit 1 Australian Capital Territory Emergency Service (4WD) 2 New South Wales Police Force (4WD) 1 DTLG (4WD) 1 RAAF Helicopter 1

AFP Rescue Squad equipment in normal use for search operations was utilised.

(3) Yes, members of the AFP Rescue Squad were involved in a search for the same two persons on 1 April 1984. On this occasion two members of the Rescue Squad were engaged in the search with one four-wheel-drive vehicle for a period of four hours.

(4) It is difficult to determine the actual cost of the searches as there are many factors which must be considered. These would include a proportion of training and equipment costs, direct costs related to vehicle use, wages of the personnel involved, the possible loss of wages in the case of Australian Capital Territory Emergency Service volunteers, and the cost of Defence Force assistance . I do not propose to authorise the time and expenditure which would be involved in calculating the precise proportions of each category of cost in relation to this exercise.

(5) No request has been made to the two persons involved to offset the cost of the search. Presently there are no provisions within AFP legislation to enable recovery of costs for such an incident.