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Four Corners Allegations

Allegations of brutality by Australian Defence Force personnel made on the ABC's Four Corners program last night are both untrue and unfair.

The Royal Australian Navy has the difficult and stressful task of protecting Australia's maritime borders. Defence personnel engaged in intercepting suspected illegal entry vessels do a great job and the Australian people are grateful for their work.

Defence personnel have taken every measure to ensure the safety and well being of potential illegal immigrants. Specifically:

* Personnel are instructed to use, and have used, only minimum force.
* No electric batons or tasers were used - such equipment is not even issued to ADF personnel.
* Members of the Transit Security Element were equipped with first aid kits, life jackets and personal protective gear, including capsicum spray which was rarely used. This issue has already been addressed during hearings of the Senate Select Committee into a Certain Maritime Incident.
* Medical assistance was provided to potential illegal immigrants in all cases by highly trained Navy doctors who were able to obtain the authority to evacuate medical emergencies if warranted. Medical decisions rest solely with the medical staff. Several potential illegal immigrants were treated on board ship by Navy medical staff taking specialist medical advice from Australia.
* Highly experienced naval engineers and seamen assessed the seaworthiness of SIEVs before any decision was taken with regard to escorting them back out of Australian territorial waters.

The men and women who are carrying out these maritime border patrols have done so with the highest standards of dedication and professionalism, and they deserve our thanks for carrying out a difficult.

The Government is determined to protecting Australia's borders using Defence and civilian means as is necessary. Our policy is proving successful.

Ends

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