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Transcript of press conference: Shangri-la Hotel, Kuala Lumpur: 29 November 2006: \nBlackhawk accident.



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PRIME MINISTER

29 November 2006

TRANSCRIPT OF THE PRIME MINISTER THE HON JOHN HOWARD MP PRESS CONFERENCE SHANGRI-LA HOTEL, KUALA LUMPUR

Subjects: Blackhawk accident.

EO&E………………………………………………………………………………….

PRIME MINISTER:

Well ladies and gentlemen, I would like to say how very saddened I am about the helicopter crash. I extend my deepest sympathy to the family of the man who has lost his life. Like all Australians I hope and pray that the missing Army person is found and that the injuries of those who were rescued are not serious and that they make a full recovery. This is just another reminder that we are dealing with a special group of people who take risks on our behalf. I am told that this was a training flight, but any kind of activity of this character carries with it risks and it’s particularly sad when that risk turns into tragedy. And we’re all very, very sorry and we feel a particular sense of grief because these men and women take risks in our name and on our behalf and that gives them a very special character. And we have a special responsibility and therefore a special feeling of concern for their loved ones when a tragedy occurs.

JOURNALIST:

Prime Minister, do you know much about the details of the crash at all?

PRIME MINISTER:

I don’t know any more than what the Chief of the Defence Force has explained. I have seen his statement. That is the extent of my knowledge of it at the present time. As he indicated there will be the normal inquiry and I don’t really intend to say any more about the circumstances of it for reasons you will understand.

JOURNALIST:

2

Mr Howard, we have had weeks of threats and posturing from Commodore Bainimarama. Now people have died. Do you feel frustrated or angered by this?

PRIME MINISTER:

Well I am sad. Very upset that a young man has lost his life and another one is missing. I am saddened and distressed that that has happened.

JOURNALIST:

Are you concerned, the Fijians as I understand it tonight are somewhat concerned that there were special forces off the coast of Fiji and they say they will be watching the Australians carefully. Might this exacerbate the situation, the tensions between Australia and Fiji at all, the fact that there were such specialist forces in that area?

PRIME MINISTER:

We have behaved appropriately given our responsibilities in relation to Australians in Fiji.

[ends]