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Peter Reith: semi-retired, completely unreliable.

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Kim Beazley - Peter Reith: Semi-Retired, Completely Unreliable //media/0901/kbmsacg270901.html Friday, 28 September 2001

Peter Reith: Semi-Retired, Completely Unreliable

Kim Beazley - Leader of the Opposition

Media Statement - 27 September 2001

The retiring Defence Minister, Peter Reith, is up to his usual distortions and fibs about Labor's plan to introduce a dedicated Australian Coast Guard.

Mr Reith's claim today that Labor's plan "is to strip the Royal Australian Navy of assets and people". He also claimed that the Coast Guard would "greatly undermine the RAN". This is entirely untrue, and Labor plans no such thing.

The following extract from my address to Parliament on the subject last Monday - conveniently ignored by Mr Reith - makes clear our intention to ensure there are real benefits for the Navy and for naval personnel in the establishment of the Coast Guard.

"It is also important to note that while the Navy and other defence components have been doing a sterling job in assisting with the patrolling of our maritime approaches, this is primarily a job for a coastguard service operating as a maritime police force. The establishment of the Australian Coast Guard will free up the Navy from this policing role and allow it to focus on its primary job: training and preparing for the military defence of Australia. Notwithstanding this, Labor envisages that there will be very close links between the Navy and the Coast Guard. In addition to combining their intelligence and surveillance data, as I have already mentioned, it is proposed that Navy personnel be posted to Coast Guard vessels for tours of duty for operational purposes as well as for training in basic seamanship and navigation. There will be other links between the services, including command cross-postings." (House of Representatives, 24 September 2001)


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