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Monday, 21 October 2002
Page: 5484

Senator HILL (Minister for Defence) (3:04 PM) —I want to add to the answers I gave to two questions I got from Senator Evans. The first was in relation to the email from the Defence Security Authority. Consistent with what I said, I am advised that there was no additional information mentioning a specific threat to Bali. The email was written in the context of the broader threat to Western interests in Indonesia and South-East Asia. When that threat warning was disseminated through Defence, a number of people in Victoria raised questions about their travel plans to Bali. The email was written to answer their questions by reiterating that there was no specific threat and that individuals should monitor the DFAT travel advisories for any destination, including Bali. The Defence Security Authority, as I said, does not independently assess the terrorist threat overseas but instead draws on ASIO threat assessment and DFAT travel advisories to provide tailored advice on the threat to specific Defence activities.

In relation to the question that was asked about the outsourcing of non-operational ADF health services in Victoria, I was partly right and partly wrong. I was correct in saying that I believed the matter was aged, in the sense that I am told that the decision to market-test was in fact taken after an ANAO audit report in 1997. I was wrong in that it was only recently that the outcome of that process has led to an announcement of Mayne as the preferred tenderer. I should emphasise, however, that under this arrangement the 86 military medical staff will be redeployed to core capability areas such as operationally deployable health support units. So, in contrast with what Senator Evans said, they are being taken from non-deployable areas to be put into operationally deployable areas and are therefore more likely to be able to assist in such occurrences as that which occurred in Bali. It was interesting that, of the 45 medical personnel from the ADF involved in the Bali response, only four had come from Laverton.

Furthermore, it should be emphasised that this is not going to result in a lesser standard of health care for ADF personnel in Victoria; in some areas, the tender not only maintains but also improves upon current health services delivery in Victoria. Areas of improvement include on-base in-patient services at Albury-Wodonga and primary health care at RAAF Williams, which of course is at Laverton, as mentioned by Senator Evans. Out of that we get the advantages of redeploying personnel to operational areas, enhancing the health service available in non-deployable requirements in Victoria and saving money as well.