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Update - Defence support to Tsunami relief in Aceh.

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MEDIA RELEASE SENATOR THE HON ROBERT HILL Minister for Defence Leader of the Government in the Senate


Friday, 31 December 2004 252/2004


The Australian Defence Force is establishing a headquarters in Medan to coordinate ADF activity in Sumatra following Sunday’s tsunami, Defence Minister Robert Hill announced today.

Senator Hill said a range of ADF assets and personnel for the humanitarian relief operation has been committed over the past few days and this continues to grow as tasks are identified.

This includes the HMAS Kanimbla, which left Sydney this afternoon en route to Aceh.

Senator Hill said the headquarters in Medan will assist in planning for the distribution of aid and the best placement of ADF people and their skills or equipment.

“We are already witnessing a logjam at key airfields and we need to ensure that we can get essential aid, supplies and assistance into the affected areas as quickly as possible,” Senator Hill said.

“Past experience with relief operations has highlighted the importance of effective control and liaison arrangements to ensure our efforts are well targeted and efficient.

“The task ahead for all involved in the operation is enormous so it is critical to ensure our personnel can operate efficiently and effectively.

“In the interim, our C-130 Hercules transport aircraft (4 Australian and I New Zealand) are continuing to ferry humanitarian aid into Aceh and to bring out injured for medical care in Medan and Jakarta.

“There are also two further C-130s to be based out of Darwin that will provide an air bridge between Darwin and Sumatra.

“Over the next few days we will dispatch four UH-1H Iroquois helicopters from Amberley, South Queensland, an increase on the three announced yesterday.

“The field hospital announced yesterday will be moved from Sydney by aircraft on Monday.

“By early next week the ADF will have a large contingent of personnel working in Sumatra to provide essential medical, engineering and air transport tasks.

“Defence is continually assessing needs and working with Indonesian authorities to ensure we have the personnel and equipment that is of most use during the crisis.”

The current ADF commitment is as follows:

• 5 C-130 Hercules (4 Australian & 1 New Zealand)

• 1 Boeing 707

• 1 Beech 350 King Air

• 2 C-130 Hercules based in Darwin for on-going air lift

• An advance assessment/planning team in Sumatra

• An advance medical team

• Water Purification Plant

• HMAS Kanimbla

• 2 Sea King Helicopters

• 2 Landing Craft

• Primary medical team and care facility

• Approximately 100 Engineers to be loaded in Darwin

• Communications

• 4 UH-1H Iroquois helicopters

• Field Hospital

• Headquarters staff (Sumatra)

• Hundreds of personnel supporting the operation from within Australia

Media contacts Mark Williams (Senator Hill) 0401 147 558

Defence Media Liaison 0408 498 664