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Thursday, 23 September 1999
Page: 10390

Mr BEAZLEY —My question is to the Minister for Defence. Minister, have you seen reports of comments this morning by Major General Peter Cosgrove, Commander of INTERFET, stating that its security is well stretched and that he has not enough soldiers to protect all of Dili's residential areas? In the light of increasing security incidents, including the murder yesterday of a foreign journalist, what direct personal efforts are you making today to ensure that General Cosgrove is receiving the troops and resources he needs for the East Timor operation? Given that Australia is leading the INTERFET operation, can you assure the House that you are directly communicating with other defence ministers involved in INTERFET to ensure that their commitments of troops and support are being delivered as agreed? Minister, what contingency planning are you making today to accelerate that deployment if a more rapid response is required by General Cosgrove?

Mr MOORE (Defence) —Next week the Minister for Foreign Affairs will be at the United Nations, at which time he will contact all the relevant foreign ministers who have indicated support for the coalition forces and make sure that there is a follow-up on the commitments that have been made. In the meantime, I have spoken to some of the ministers concerned in defence, the VCDF has travelled in South-East Asia in contact with a number of his interlocutories and we are still receiving contributions from coalition partners this day. Being deployed into Townsville at the moment are some Filipinos. I anticipate that the build-up of the coalition forces will take some time. In the meantime the ADF, the New Zealand contingent, elements of the British and elements of the Gurkhas are deployed in East Timor, along with some American elements. That force is doing a particularly good job, and I would like to pay a very big compliment to General Cosgrove.