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Thursday, 17 December 1992
Page: 5342

Senator DURACK —My question is directed to the Minister for Defence. I refer to the Government's decision to deploy a full battalion from the ODF to Somalia in support of the United Nations' Operation Restore Hope. Could the Minister explain to the Senate what capacity Australia would have to respond to a defence emergency in our region during the period in which this battalion will be deployed in Somalia?

Senator ROBERT RAY —The 3rd Brigade operates on the basis of rotating battalions. On the basis of the first battalion going to Somalia, the second battalion will be on a readiness alert for that 17-week period. We only ever have one battalion at that readiness level. It will be at the readiness level as is normal. It was pointed out, I think, that using the Operational Deployment Force rather than other battalions did give us a strategic requirement to put a shelf life on our offer, which is 17 weeks—not from today, as I think Dr Hewson said, confused, a few minutes ago in the House of Representatives, but from their deployment to Somalia.