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Australia's committment to the proliferation security initiative.

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Media contacts Sascha Meld rum (Senator Hill) 02 6277 7800 0409 034 241

Brad Burke (Minister Ellison ) 02 6277 7260 0417 749 711

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

Minister for Justi ce and Customs


Tuesday , 16 August 2005 128 /2005


Australia is demonstrating its strong commitment to halting the spread of weapons of mass destruction by contributing to a Singapore -hosted Proliferatio n Security Initiative (PSI) exercise this week .

Defence Minister Senator Robert Hill and Justice and Customs Minister Senator Chris Ellison welcomed the PSI exercise which runs until August 19 , and will include a maritime interdiction scenario.

The Prolife ration Security Initiative is a global framework which aims to prevent the proliferation and trafficking of weapons of mass destruction , their delivery systems and related materials and equipment.

The Royal Australian Navy’s largest vessel HMAS WESTRALIA , the Australian Customs Vessel Hervey Bay and a specialised Customs boarding and search team will be involved in this exercise ‐ called Exercise DEEP SABRE .

Australia will participate in the exercise alongside other international PSI partners including Jap an, New Zealand, the United Kingdom and the United States. HMAS WESTRALIA will perform the role as one of the notional ‘target’ vessels suspected of transporting WMD material.

“Australia is a strong supporter and active participant in the PSI,” said Defen ce Minister Robert Hill.

“Exercises like DEEP SABRE are designed to ensure Australia and other regional PSI countries can work together effectively to track and intercept WMD shipments.

“I strongly encourage regional countries to support the PSI as a pract ical means to prevent the spread of weapons of mass destruction.”

Senator Ellison said t his is the first time a Customs vessel has participated in a PSI exercise overseas and it provide s an important opportunity for Customs personnel to test their skills alongside international agencies as part of the joint training exercise.

“Customs has excellent relationships in the Asia -Pacific region. Its participation in this exercise sends a strong signal it is well prepared to help meet threats of this nature in o ur own waters,” Senator Ellison said.

Australia led the first PSI interdiction exercise, Pacific Protector 03, in the Coral Sea in September 2003 and hosted a meeting of PSI Operational Experts in Sydney last December.