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Monday, 10 November 2008
Page: 10456

Mr Baldwin asked the Minister for Defence, in writing, on 2 September 2008:

In respect of the C-130 trip from the Gulf Country to Tarin Kowt (return) which Professor Scott Holmes attended: (a) what level of personal protection equipment was the professor required to wear while in Tarin Kowt; (b) what was the itinerary for the visit to Tarin Kowt; (c) what arrangement was in place in the event that the professor became injured or was killed during the visit to Tarin Kowt; and (d) what would the total sum of compensation or liability have been should the professor have been injured or killed during the visit to Tarin Kowt.

Mr Fitzgibbon (Minister for Defence) —The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:

(a)   Professor Scott Holmes was issued with a Kevlar vest, or ‘flak jacket’, and a Kevlar helmet for the visit. This is standard-issue equipment to any person travelling to Iraq or Afghanistan to protect against small arms fire and fragmentation injuries.

(b)   Professor Holmes was a member of my travelling party. We made an unscheduled trip from Turkey, where I was an official guest at the Anzac Day ceremonies, through a country in the Gulf to Afghanistan before returning via a country in the Gulf to Australia.

(c)   In the event of Professor Holmes being injured or killed on the trip, he would have been afforded the same treatment and care as any other member of my travelling party. The aeromedical evacuation system would have been activated to transfer Professor Holmes to the nearest medical facility and he would have been evacuated in accordance with current Australian Defence Force and International Security Assistance Force evacuation procedures.

(d)   It is not possible to answer this hypothetical question, given that any issue of potential compensation or liability would have depended on the specific circumstances and details. It is not the case, however, that the Australian Government would necessarily have been liable had some incident occurred.