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Early warning system for troops inexusably [inexcusably] delayed

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Senator the Hon David Johnston Shadow Minister for Defence I Senator for Western Australia Media Release  EARLY WARNING SYSTEM FOR TROOPS INEXUSABLY DELAYED The new rocket early warning system installed to help protect Australian soldiers from attacks in Afghanistan has taken far too long and is symptomatic of a Government delaying projects and avoiding the tough decisions. C-RAM (Counter Rocket Artillery and Mortar) was not due to be purchased by Defence until 2018 which was little comfort to our soldiers in Afghanistan who were relying on the warning system provided by other nations. Shadow Defence Minister Senator David Johnston said Australian troops have badly needed their own reliable early warning system and the delay in purchasing C-RAM put lives at unnecessary risk. “We have had a succession of Labor Defence Ministers who literally have had no understanding or appreciation of the consistent and very real threat of rocket and mortar attacks on Australian forward operating bases in Afghanistan, which was evident in their lethargy in this acquisition,” Senator Johnston said. “In January 2009 Private Greg Sher was killed by a Taliban rocket attack while last year we had rockets landing either side of our Tarin Kowt base and it was more a case of good luck than good management that none of our troops were injured or killed,” Senator Johnston said. Senator Johnston then raised the delayed purchase of C-RAM in Senate Question time in August 2009 where the Minister admitted it was not on the horizon for another nine years. At a further briefing with Defence in January 2010 Senator Johnston said he was alarmed the project still had no urgency attached to it and again lobbied the Minister. “The acquisition of C-RAM is better late than never and it will perform a vital role in the safety of our troops but the protracted delay has been completely inexcusable,” Senator Johnston said. “Defence procurement under the Labor Government has slowed to a trickle with Ministers allowing decisions and purchases to drag on and in the case of C-RAM it could have been the difference between life and death in Afghanistan,” Senator Johnston said. Media contact: Rebecca Horton 0427 449 120 1/02/2011 Rebecca Horton

Media Adviser I Senator the Hon David Johnston Shadow Minister for Defence I Senator for Western Australia

Office (Perth) (08) 9478 2088 I Mobile: 0427 449 120