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Wednesday, 26 March 2003
Page: 13556

Mr CREAN (Leader of the Opposition) (2:02 PM) —My question is to the Prime Minister. Can he confirm the comments of the Minister for Defence that there may be a need for the rotation of our troops in the gulf? Can he confirm the expected length of rotation for personnel in the gulf? Given the intensity of the operation, will rotations be shorter than previous rotations—for example, four or six months—and have preparations already started for the rotation of our troops? Prime Minister, have any personnel been notified to ready themselves for a possible rotation and have any personnel been given the anthrax vaccine in preparation for a rotation to the gulf?

Mr HOWARD (Prime Minister) —I would have to refresh myself as to the exact words used by the defence minister, but my understanding is that he was making the entirely sensible comment that if it were needed it would be done. I think we all hope that the duration of the conflict will be such that it will not be needed. I can assure the Leader of the Opposition and, more importantly—and I am not being disrespectful to him—I can assure the Australian people and particularly defence families that all the necessary precautions will be taken, as they were with the current deployment.