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Monday, 7 March 2005
Page: 35


Senator BARTLETT (2:56 PM) —My question without notice is to the Minister for Defence. Is the minister aware of reports that nine US military police officers who had served in southern Iraq have tested positive for depleted uranium contamination after they returned from that region? Is it the case that the new deployment of 450 Australian troops will be in areas that have been used as a dump for material destroyed by depleted uranium-tipped shells? What assurances have been sought or what action has been taken by the Department of Defence to ensure Australian troops are not exposed to radioactive contamination or depleted uranium in the areas that they will be deployed to?


Senator HILL (Minister for Defence) —I do not specifically know of the US case, but I know that there has been evidence of depleted uranium having been used in that region, particularly at the time of the 1991 war. I am advised by the Chief of the Defence Force that surveys will be conducted, taking into account known information as to where contaminated areas are likely to be, to ensure that we make operational decisions that are consistent with the health of our deployed personnel.


Senator BARTLETT —Mr President, I ask a supplementary question. Can the minister indicate whether all Australian troops will be tested for radioactive contamination upon their return from this latest service?


Senator HILL (Minister for Defence) —I will have to take advice on that particular question.