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Evacuation of Australians from Solomon Islands

The embarkation of Australians and other foreign nationals wishing to evacuate Honiara resumed this morning at approximately 8:00 o'clock. Approximately 300 people have boarded HMAS Tobruk which has spent the night anchored in Honiara harbour.

The situation in the vicinity of the ship remains calm. A decision on a destination port will be made once it is clear how many people have taken advantage of the offer to board Tobruk.

The Minister for Defence, John Moore, this morning clarified the situation regarding the cost of the operation.

"I can confirm that the Australian Government will not be charging civilians for the evacuation. To this end, I have ensured that Defence assets will be employed throughout the operation. If an airbridge is required to supplement the evacuation by HMAS Tobruk, RAAF aircraft will be deployed.

"All civilians onboard HMAS Tobruk will be brought to safety in Australia. Non-Australian citizens will then be at liberty to continue their journey home.

"Yesterday afternoon, prior to the commencement of the evacuation, I instructed Defence that the operation was to be on an entirely zero-cost-recovery basis. Defence has, at no time, sought any financial contribution from those seeking our help."

Further information is available through Defence Public Affairs on 02 62652929.

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