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New Defence Minister visits HMAS Albatross, meet Sea King Squadron personnel.



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PRESS RELEASE

Joanna Gash MP Member for Gilmore 23 February 2006

NEW DEFENCE MINISTER VISITS HMAS ALBATROSS, MEETS SEA KING SQUADRON PERSONNEL

The visit today to HMAS Albatross by new Minister for Defence, Dr Brendan Nelson, is an important show of support.

Member for Gilmore, Joanna Gash said the visit was in response to an approach she made to the former Defence Minister, Senator Robert Hill, after reports of a loss of confidence by defence personnel at HMAS Albatross in the wake of the Nias tragedy and the Sea King Inquiry.

"This is a much needed visit for morale," Mrs Gash said.

"Dr Nelson was not the Defence Minister when we made the approach but he immediately took time to put HMAS Albatross, Commanding Officer Captain Grant Ferguson and the Sea King crews at the top of his agenda.

"Today's visit underlines the Australian Government's commitment to the personnel at HMAS Albatross and, particularly, those who are a part of 817 Squadron.

"We have been concerned about the reports of a lack of confidence in the maintenance regime of the Sea Kings and I hope today's visit puts those concerns to rest.

"The men and women of our defence forces are among this nation's greatest assets and the Minister's visit to Nowra today was all about acknowledging the commitment made by our ADF members and their families."

Mrs Gash also acknowledged Senator Concetta Fierravanti-Wells from Wollongong, who also met with HMAS Albatross personnel today.

"The Senator is a strong supporter of the defence bases in the Shoalhaven and was keen to be a part of today's briefing and inspection," Mrs Gash said.

23/2/06

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