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Safety of ADF personnel in Baghdad.



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Kevin Rudd MP Shadow Minister for Foreign Affairs

Robert McClelland MP Shadow Minister for Homeland Security Shadow Attorney General

8 February 2005

SAFETY OF ADF PERSONNEL IN BAGHDAD

The Government must make clear why approximately 90 ADF personnel who form the Security Detachment in Baghdad remain in an exposed position opposite in the now vacated Australian embassy precinct.

Minister Downer’s response in question time today was completely inadequate.

Labor is extremely concerned about the safety of our troops in a war torn city, yet Mr Downer refuses to give a clear-cut commitment as to when these ADF personnel will be relocated to a position of greater security - and why they are still there.

By the Government’s own admission, there are now only three Australian diplomats in Baghdad and these have been moved to the United States’ facilities inside Camp Victory for their own protection. The Government must answer:

• Why are Australian troops attached to the Security Detachment still in an exposed position defending a disused embassy precinct where there are no longer any Australian diplomats to protect?

• Why are these troops putting their lives on the line to defend a vacant piece of real estate?

• Why does the Security Detachment remain at some distance from our diplomats and forced to make additional journeys along ‘Route

Irish’ - acknowledged as one of the most dangerous roads in the world?

A decision on transferring the embassy staff and the Security Detachment should have been made straight after Senator Hill decided not to visit our embassy due to security concerns during his visit to Baghdad in

December last year.

Ends

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Further information:

Alister Jordan (Mr Rudd’s office) 0417 605 823

Tom Cameron (Mr McClelland’s office) 0417 147 932