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Admiral Barrie's statement.

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I welcome the announcement by the Chief of the Defence Force, Admiral Barrie, that a top level CDF/Secretary task force would examine communications problems which arose during the SIEV 4 incident in October, 2001.

Admiral Barrie’s statement confirms the claims of the government that prior to 10 November last, he had not informed the government that the original advice regarding children being thrown overboard was inaccurate.

The crucial issue is what was communicated to Ministers prior to 10 November.

In his statement today, the CDF has made it clear that the conclusion which he has now reached has been based on a recent review of the material and a conversation with the Commander of HMAS Adelaide last Sunday.

Admiral Barrie continues to enjoy my strong support.

He has led the ADF through difficult times. These included the very successful deployment in East Timor. His role in ensuring the readiness of the ADF for that deployment was absolutely essential to its ultimate success.

It should, moreover, be noted that at the time of the SIEV 4 incident, the top priority for the ADF and therefore the CDF, was Australia’s commitment, beside the United States, in the war against terrorism. Admiral Barrie discharged that responsibility with great skill.

I join the CDF in commending Commander Banks and his crew for their extraordinary efforts during the SIEV4 incident and their subsequent work as part of Australia’s war against terrorism.

27 February, 2002