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Tuesday, 22 October 2002
Page: 5577

Senator CHRIS EVANS (2:01 PM) — My question is directed to Senator Hill, the Minister for Defence. I refer the minister to the email that he acknowledged in his answer to a question yesterday. The email was reported in the weekend Herald Sun as being sent from a principal security adviser in Defence to military personnel intending to travel to Indonesia. Can the minister confirm that this email, whether or not he characterises it as an alert, was sent on or around 27 August to all military staff in Victoria and Tasmania who were contemplating official travel to Indonesia? Would the minister also confirm that the email from the principal security adviser contained a specific reference to Bali? I am asking the minister to confirm the date, to whom it was sent and whether or not there was a specific reference to Bali.

Senator HILL (Minister for Defence) —I provided detail through the additional answer to my question at the conclusion of question time yesterday. I am not sure of the date of the email. I now will have to go back and check that. I repeat what I said yesterday: it is my understanding that it was a response to Defence staff who had sought advice in relation to Defence travel, and in their request for advice at least some had made mention of Bali. Therefore, the response was couched in terms of a request that had been received for travel advice to Indonesia, including Bali. That was the way in which the reference to Bali was included. I do not think that is any different to what I said yesterday.

Senator CHRIS EVANS —Mr President, I ask a supplementary question. I thank the minister for his answer. I would appreciate it if he could get back to me on the details of the date and how widely that email advice was targeted. Can the minister also advise what action the department undertook in response to these queries from personnel and, specifically, what consultations Defence undertook with any other Commonwealth agencies in compiling the advice to personnel about travel to Indonesia?

Senator HILL (Minister for Defence) —I said yesterday that they took into account the advice from other agencies, which is what has been talked about in recent days. In the response, the security adviser suggested to travellers that they consult the DFAT travel advisory. The content of that DFAT travel advisory is now well known because it has been spoken about in great detail in recent days.