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Subject: Flood assistance, Wikleaks & Julian Assange


STEVE WHAN (New South Wales Minister for Emergency Services):.....I'll hand over to Commonwealth
Attorney-General Robert McClelland.

ROBERT McCLELLAND: First of all could I thank on behalf of the Commonwealth Government the SES
volunteers, but could I also specifically thank those who are contributing from the Australian

It's very common in these incidences to receive assistance from the Army, but because of your local
community having the air force base here, you're actually receiving a lot of assistance from Air
Force Personnel as well. So I thank them.

They're literally getting among it, they've assisted in laying thousands of sand bags to help the
local community and we stand ready and available to provide any further assistance that we can at a
Commonwealth Government level.

I can confirm as a result of those additional six shires being declared disaster affected today,
that the Natural Disaster Relief and Recovery Arrangements kicks in for those areas. This is an
arrangement whereby the Commonwealth contributes effectively knock for- knock - fifty percent of
the cost of a reconstruction effort for those communities.

As Steve Whan said, it aims to assist locals who have been affected, particularly those who may be
on low income and had their houses damaged or are required to move out for a period of time - they
may be entitled to those personal hardship grants.

We will be distributing information regarding the contact numbers that people can access, and that
includes individuals, individual households. It includes primary producers, small businesses and
there are also some freight subsidies that may be available for people who have had to either move
stock, or fodder for their livestock.

We are well aware, and again as both the Premier and the Minister have indicated, we are well aware
of the fact that this community has done it tough, ironically with the drought over the last

And for that reason there is Exceptional Circumstance assistance in place in many of these areas, I
think until early next year as a result of the drought. But I will be also having discussions this
week in Canberra with Senator Joseph Ludwig in respect to the agricultural portfolio and we'll
certainly continue to monitor that situation.

We're well aware that a number of farmers who were expecting a bumper crop have now had their hopes
to a substantial degree in many areas suffering disappointment.

The Federal and State Governments are working together well in these arrangements. The agencies are
working well. And the volunteers have been outstanding and again if I could pass on our
appreciation for the assistance that's being provided by our defence forces. Thank you.


JOURNALIST: Mister McClelland, just on another note, how damaging is it to Australia's relationship
with China that these revelations that have come out through WikiLeaks about the advice Mister Rudd
gave to his Ministers?

McCLELLAND: We have a very strong relationship with the Chinese government. And with the people of
China, strong business relationships; strong diplomatic relationships; strong government to
government relationships and that arrangement will certainly continue.

JOURNALIST: Were they embarrassing?

McCLELLAND: The Foreign Minister has not given the publication of this information dignity by
commenting on the contents of it. All I can do is reiterate that we have excellent relationships at
a number of levels including law enforcement cooperation and for example when they've had
emergencies to provide assistance... and China is Australia's crucial partner in a number of
respects and those arrangements will continue.

JOURNALIST: The Opposition, the Opposition is calling on Julia Gillard to clarify Australia's
position on this whole issue and to clarify what the comments that Kevin Rudd did make.

McCLELLAND: It's not for me to give advice to the Shadow Foreign Minister, but I would be inclined
to suggest to her to not give dignity to the specifics of these matters that have been published.

I mean, in one instance, she suggested that people are perhaps going too hard on WikiLeaks.

Can I tell you, on the material that I have seen, there is every prospect that material will be
published that could identify persons of interest.

Not only that, in identifying persons of interest, it could well reveal the source of that
information and place innocent people at risk.

I would caution the Shadow Minister for Foreign Affairs for engaging with WikiLeaks on this.

Freedom of speech is an important right that we expect. But we also respect people's right to life
and people's right to live to without fear in circumstances where they have provided to law
enforcement and national security agencies. I would strongly caution the Shadow Minister for
Foreign Affairs about giving any credibility to or acting in a manner that can give credibility to

JOURNALIST: 'question inaudible'

McCLELLAND: I've said previously the Australian Federal Police is investigating whether any
offences have been committed in terms of Australian law.

They are investigating that matter, but it stands to reason that given the material came from the
United States secure site, that the United States is the government that is looking at the law
enforcement issues. Australian agencies will be available to provide every assistance.

But I would again just caution people to come back and merely see what's going here. There is every
prospect that national security and sensitive information will be published that could actually
prejudice the safety of individuals who have done nothing more and nothing less than provide
information to assist law enforcement and security agencies, who's task is it protect our

Not only the national security interests of the United States, the safety and security of the
people of the United States and the safety and security of the people within its allies, including
Australia, who has provided this information.

JOURNALIST: Do you have any understanding if Australian laws have been broken?

McCLELLAND: Well I think the focus will ultimately be a United States law enforcement action and if
that is the case, the Australian government will provide assistance there. But, nonetheless, it
would be irresponsible if I didn't seek advice as to whether any Australian laws had been breached.

JOURNALIST: Julian Assange's lawyer is complaining that the government hasn't given Mister Assange
much support. What is the government's response?

McCLELLAND: Well Mr Assange, as an Australian citizen, is entitled to consular assistance overseas
in respect to any criminal allegations that he may face and he is entitled to procedural fairness
in respect to those allegations.

The Australian government, should it become necessary, would make representations to ensure that he
receives due process and procedural fairness.

He is also entitled to, as an Australian citizen, return to Australia - that is the fact.

But equally Australia has obligations pursuant to agreements that we have signed that ensure we
will provide mutual assistance to countries investigating criminal law enforcement matters.

I specifically mentioned that Mister Assange is entitled to due process in respect to any criminal
allegations that he might face.

Can I ask those who are releasing this classified documentation to question whether they themselves
are providing due process and procedural fairness to the lives, to those persons whose safety and
indeed potentially lives they could be threatening as a result of the publication of the
information. Can I suggest there has been a complete absence of procedural fairness in that