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Friday, 10 May 1985
Page: 1762


Senator GARETH EVANS —Yesterday Senator Chipp asked me about reports in the media that a member of the public in Sydney was held up at gunpoint by masked men during a counter-terrorist exercise known as Operation Blow Wave. I have some further information that I promised the Senate. I wish to make it quite clear at the outset, lest there should be any misunderstanding, that the exercise which took place last weekend in Sydney was a New South Wales police exercise. It was not a Defence Force exercise nor one within the ambit of the Australian Federal Police, although members of the Defence Force did participate in it at the invitation of the New South Wales police.

Senator Chipp seemed to assume in his question that such masked men as may have been involved in the exercise were members of the Special Air Service Regiment. I am assured that this is not true. I have now had further advice from the Minister for Defence and I can reaffirm for Senator Chipp that no member of the Defence Force took into custody, interrogated or threatened with weapons any member of the public. Senator Chipp also referred to the Sheraton fiasco. I can assure him, as I had hoped to be in a position to do yesterday but now can do, that no member of the Australian Secret Intelligence Service was involved in the exercise which took place in Sydney last weekend.

Perhaps I should also mention for the record that honourable senators will no doubt have seen some Press reports flowing from a Press conference yesterday by the New South Wales police officer in charge of Operation Blow Wave, Chief Superintendent Lance Stirton, which put a rather different complexion on that aspect of the exercise which is alleged to have involved masked gunmen than the report originally made in the Press.