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Solomon Islands evacuation.

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Solomon Islands Evacuation Stephen Martin - Shadow Minister for Defence

Media Statement - 9 June 2000

The Shadow Minister for Defence, Stephen Martin, today welcomed the news that the Government had changed its mind and would not be charging Australian nationals for the evacuation from Honiara.

"It is highly inappropriate to charge a fee when Defence transport is being used to evacuate Australian civilians from a dangerous situation at the request and recommendation of the Government," Mr Martin said.

"The situation on the ground in Honiara is prohibitive to normal commercial transport options being used for evacuation and therefor it is correct that Defence transport is being used in this 'Service Assisted Evacuation' (SAE).

"To even suggest that Australian civilians should be charged for being evacuated on a Royal Australian Navy ship is ludicrous when there is effectively no other normal commercial options available.

"These Australian nationals and civilians from other nations are being appropriately evacuated by the ADF and it is proper that it not be done on a cost recovery basis.

"It is also important that the Minister for Defence ensure that the normal ADF Operation Procedures for SAE are adhered to so that risk to Australian nationals and ADF personnel is minimised.

"I think it is crucial that the Government ensure that ADF ships and aircraft remain available for continued evacuations while the situation in the Solomon Islands poses a threat to the safety of Australian civilians still there." Mr Martin said.

Authorised by Geoff Walsh, 19 National Circuit, Barton ACT 2600.