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Customs Officers Bound For East Timor

Media Release
17 May 2000


Customs Officers Bound For East Timor


Customs Minister Phillida Bunkle will farewell five Customs Officers who leave tomorrow for their latest assignment in East Timor.

The team is the second contingent from the New Zealand Customs Service to assist the United Nations Transitional Administration in East Timor (UNTAET).

Aucklander Garth Russell, who has 24 years with Customs, and vast experience in marine matters, will lead the second Customs team. Garth will by joined by Customs officers Duncan McDuff and Desmond Erby, both of Christchurch, Trevor Gleave of Tauranga and Julie Leaf of Auckland.

The first Customs team, which has been in Dili since January, is expected home by the end of May.

Ms Bunkle commended the officers for their tangible contribution to the development of the emerging Timor nation.

"These officers were chosen from almost 40 staff who volunteered for deployment duty. The fact that so many put their hands up for the task is a sign of the commitment the Customs Service has in re-establishing an effective administration in East Timor," she said.

The team will be involved in implementing goods management, revenue collection processes and systems, intelligence controls and freight inspection both at Comoro airport and the Port of Dili. They will also be involved in providing specialist training to East Timorese Customs Officers in these areas.

"Establishing and maintaining the integrity of this newly independent nation's border is essential to protecting their community. It's so important to keep a community like East Timor safe by checking people's movements, checking for drugs, arms and other undesirable goods such as military clothing. This second deployment will play a vital part in the United Nation's operations to help East Timor achieve this," Ms Bunkle said.

"I know that these officers will represent New Zealand's interests with distinction and I wish each of them well in their tour of duty."

ENDS


Note: Ms Bunkle will meet the Customs team at 10.50am, tomorrow, Thursday 18 May 2000, Auckland International Airport. The team departs at 1.30pm.

Media contact: Juli Clausen (Press Secretary) (04) 471-9761 or (025) 89 66 29

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