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East Timor quarantine workers receive INTERFET medals.

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AFFA01/143WT 5 June 2001

East Timor quarantine workers receive INTERFET medals

Federal Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry Warren Truss MP today congratulated 12 Australian Quarantine and Inspection Service (AQIS) officers who have been awarded International Force East Timor (INTERFET) medals.

The medal recognises members of the Australian Defence Force and others who served with INTERFET in East Timor between September 1999 and February 2000, during the ‘Operation Stabilise’ period.

Mr Truss said that the INTERFET medals pay tribute to the important work AQIS officers carried out in East Timor in partnership with the Australian Defence Force.

"The primary role of the officers was to ensure all machinery and equipment moved in and out of East Timor was free of any contaminated material.

"AQIS is defending Australia from pest hitch-hikers on three fronts: first, by inspecting and cleaning equipment, machinery and troops clothing before they leave East Timor; second, by checking these again as they enter Australia and third, as the final check, through post-entry pest surveys.

"AQIS officers have detected Siam weed, giant African snails, exotic mosquitoes and Asian honeybees among military equipment and personal effects during pre-departure inspections in East Timor. Checking every nook and cranny on every piece of equipment means we can keep the risk offshore, where it belongs.

"The clean up tasks were carried out by the Australian Army and included finding and cleaning of every trace of soil, every piece of foliage, insects and their eggs. This treatment was given to 1,500 army vehicles — everything from trucks to front-end loaders, water tankers and an M113 armoured personnel carrier. Next on the list was 10,000 pallets of army equipment — everything from generators to tents and refrigerators were also subject to inspection.

"AQIS has allocated additional resources to safeguard Australia, including 10 staff in East Timor and extra staff in Darwin where the bulk of the traffic enters Australia. The threat of pest incursions is serious and is treated accordingly."

The Medal Winners are: From Victoria - Tony Fusco, Dennies Morton, John Stone; New South Wales - Zeljko Begic, Leeanne Tame, Carolyn White; Brisbane - Alan Stoneham; Cairns - Malcolm Love, Ross Furphy; Northern Territory - Garry Tucker, Western Australia - Graham Hodge; South Australia - Phil Carter.

For more details on participants, please contact Carson Creagh in AQIS on 02 6272 5156


Minister's office: Yvonne Best (02) 6277 7520 or 0418 415 772

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Last updated 5 June 2001

URL: Commonwealth of Australia 2000