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Government sells Defence HQ.



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MEDIA RELEASE

Senator Chris Evans Labor Senator for Western Australia Shadow Minister for Defence

16 October 2002

GOVERNMENT SELLS DEFENCE HQ

The decision by the Australian Government to sell Australia’s Defence Headquarters at Russell Offices in Canberra is outrageous and raises serious concerns about Australia’s national security.

This decision by the Government represents the equivalent of the US Government selling the Pentagon.

Senator Evans said that this is an astonishing and wrong-headed decision by the Government because Australia’s intelligence services, and other key Defence functions, are housed at Russell Offices.

The Commonwealth Ombudsman confirmed that the sale and lease back project that was advertised in the weekend papers, worth over $100 million, refers to Russell Offices.

This is very disturbing and raises many questions about the security of Australia’s Defence intelligence.

It is inconceivable that the US Government would even consider selling the Pentagon, for the excellent reason that it houses core infrastructure crucial to the security of the nation, just as Russell Offices does in Australia.

The Government’s decision to sell and lease back Russell Offices at this time, without any details of how it plans to protect Defence’s massive holdings of highly sensitive information, is grossly irresponsible.

This decision comes on the back of the Auditor-General’s findings in June that the Government has sold and leased back numerous Defence properties despite having no idea how much the properties cost to operate.

The Government also admitted that it paid $30 million to refurbish Campbell Park Offices, another Defence property, before it was sold.

For comment: Chris Evans 0419 983 593 Mary Wood 0421 910 128