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Australian Defence Budget Suite Of Releases

Increased funding for war against terrorism

The Howard Government has committed $524 million to support Australia's involvement in the international coalition against terrorism.

An extra $194 million has been allocated in the 2002-03 Budget for the Operation Slipper deployments of personnel, naval, land and air assets to the war against terrorism. This is on top of the extra $330 million provided in the 2001-02 Additional Estimates in February and brings the total allocation to $524 million.

"Australia committed to the global fight against terrorism knowing that its aims could not be achieved overnight," Defence Minister Senator Hill said.

"We shall stand with the international coalition for as long as it takes to ensure a safer world where terrorism is not permitted to flourish. It will not be easy to call victory but we are in for the long haul."

Operation Slipper involves about 1100 personnel and currently includes:

* A new rotation of Special Forces Task Group personnel in Afghanistan.

* Two Royal Australian Air Force 707 air-to-air refuellers in Manas in Kyrgyzstan supporting United States and French aircraft.

* Two Royal Australian Navy frigates - HMAS Newcastle and HMAS Canberra - and one amphibious landing ship - the HMAS Manoora - in the Persian Gulf contributing to the multinational Interception force and potentially supporting the war in Afghanistan. The Manoora is due to return from duties next month for maintenance.

* RAAF F/A-18 fighter aircraft providing air defence from Diego Garcia. These aircraft are due to return to Australia by the end of this month.

"The war against terrorism is costly," Senator Hill said.

"It is impossible to have forces on the ground, ships in active service and aircraft operational in the region without incurring significant outlays. The additional funding in the 2002-03 Budget - combined with offsets achieved by re-prioritising and rescheduling activities largely unconnected directly to operations - will go to new operations and to the associated increased costs of personnel training and maintenance of equipment."

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Counter-terrorism capabilities doubled

Australia's counter-terrorist capabilities will be effectively doubled with the establishment of a second Tactical Assault Group (TAG) and a permanent Incident Response Regiment (IRR) within the Australian Defence Force (ADF).

The TAGs are highly-trained special forces units that are capable of countering terrorist activities in the maritime and land environments. The IRR will be capable of responding to a chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear or explosive (CBRNE) incident.

"The 2002-03 Budget includes $219.4 million over four years for a second TAG to be based on the east coast at Holsworthy, complementing the existing group located in Western Australia," Defence Minister Senator Robert Hill said.

"They are trained to undertake service-assisted or protected evacuation, entry from the air and sea, maritime point of entry and combat search and rescue. They conduct offensive and recovery operations beyond the range and scope of other Australian Defence Force units.

"These are the people on whom we would rely to resolve, for example, a hostage situation that cannot be managed by State or Territory police."

A full-strength, permanent TAG will be drawn immediately from the existing Special Forces element of the ADF. The extra funding will be provided to recruit and train personnel to replace those Special Forces soldiers who are transferred into the new TAG, and to purchase essential equipment, including communications, weaponry, mobility and electro-optical gear.

The Budget also includes $121 million over the next four years to make permanent the ADF's capability to respond to chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear or explosive incidents through the IRR.

"The aftermath of the September 11 terrorist attacks in the United States has reinforced the increasing threat and danger of attacks involving chemical, biological or radiological weapons," Senator Hill said.

"While there is a low risk of such an attack in Australia, the potentially grave consequences of a CBRNE attack mean we must plan for any contingency.

" We developed significant capabilities to respond to any potential incident during the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games and built on those immediately after September 11 in support of the CHOGM.

"We have now decided to establish a permanent IRR that will be able to respond to CBRNE incidents, dispose of explosive ordinance, conduct high risk searches and be supplemented by Defence Science and Technology Organisation research."

The Howard Government also has allocated extra money to the Attorney-General's Department and the Department of Health and Ageing to ensure that Australia has coordinated plans in place to respond to a CBRNE incident.

Senator Hill said the enhanced counter-terrorism capabilities honoured the Howard Government's election promise to ensure an ADF ready to deploy at short notice and able to present the Government with a wider range of options to defend Australia and its national interests.

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ACT and region to benefit from Defence spending

The 2002-03 Defence Budget will bring significant benefits to the Australian Capital Territory and its regions, with further progress on $23 million of work on ACT Defence facilities projects, the Defence Minister Senator Robert Hill said tonight.

There will be $18 million spent in the ACT in 2002-03.

A major Canberra project will be the Defence Network Operations Centre at HMAS Harman, near Queanbeyan. The project will provide basic facilities at HMAS Harman to allow later installation of a range of communications facilities. The project is due to be completed by late 2003.

Some 11,926 members of the Australian Defence Force (ADF) and Department of Defence personnel are based in the ACT.

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Northern Territory to benefit from Defence spending

The 2002-03 Defence Budget will bring significant benefits to the Northern Territory, with further progress on $552 million worth of work for Territory Defence facilities projects, Defence Minister Senator Robert Hill said tonight.

Major projects for the Northern Territory to be progressed during 2002-03 include:

* Bradshaw Field Training Area Infrastructure - Darwin, which will provide the necessary infrastructure to allow the use of the Bradshaw property as a field training area for the 1st Brigade. In-principle agreement has been reached on an indigenous land-use agreement. A contract for the construction of the bridge over the Victoria River was awarded in November 2001 and construction is expected to be completed by June 2002. Contracts for the remainder of the works will not be let until the indigenous land-use agreement has been signed and registered. Project completion is currently planned for December 2003.

* 1st Aviation Regiment Facilities- Darwin, which will provide new facilities for the 1st Aviation Regiment at Robertson Barracks in Darwin and includes permanent purpose built working, training and domestic accommodation facilities as part of their relocation and collocation in Darwin.

Some 6,100 members of the Australian Defence Force (ADF) and Department of Defence personnel are based in the Northern Territory.

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Queensland to benefit from Defence Spending

The 2002-03 Defence Budget will bring significant benefits to Queensland, with further progress on $660 million worth of work for Queensland Defence facilities projects, Defence Minister Senator Robert Hill said tonight.

There will be $143 million spent in 2002-03.

Major Queensland projects to be progressed in 2002-03 include:

* Canungra - Defence Intelligence Training Centre, which will provide new working accommodation for the headquarters, administration, instruction and course development elements replacing inadequate facilities. The centre will provide specialised instructional areas and office accommodation for command, management, support and instructional staff together with associated amenities in a secure environment. The project is due for completion in late 2003.

* Oakey Base Redevelopment - Oakey, which will redevelop Oakey Base to optimise it for support of Army rotary wing flying training, including the future Air 87 armed reconnaissance helicopter and basic helicopter training which has relocated from Fairbairn in the Australian Capital Territory. The project will rationalise, upgrade and expand facilities for rotary wing training and training support. Other elements include an emergency response station, workshops, hot refuel facility, trainees living-in accommodation and a civil terminal. The construction is to be completed by mid-2004.

* Lavarack Barracks Redevelopment Stage 3 - Townsville, which will undertake the next stage of the redevelopment of Lavarack Barracks to upgrade or to provide new working accommodation for existing units and to provide for the future relocation of Headquarters 11 Brigade and supporting units from Jezzine Barracks. Construction has started with completion planned for 2005.

* RAAF Townsville Redevelopment Stage 1 - Townsville, project will provide new facilities, including loading aprons and aircraft and vehicle support infrastructure, to support the operational role of RAAF Townsville. The redevelopment of the base will be carried out in three or more stages, with Stage 1 due for completion by August 2002. An indigenous land-use agreement with local indigenous groups has been negotiated to permit construction of operational facilities. A consolidated vehicle maintenance workshop already has been completed.

* RAAF Redevelopment Stage 2 - Townsville, which will enhance the overall effectiveness of RAAF Townsville by grouping related base functions, providing facilities to contemporary standards and alleviating occupational health and safety problems stemming from cramped and temporary accommodation. The work comprises air movement facilities, transit accommodation, combined messing facilities, a dangerous goods compound, main base entrance, physical fitness complex, base training and support complex, combined headquarters complex and engineering services and demolition. Construction is planned to be completed in 2004. Some 18,661 members of the Australian Defence Force (ADF) and Department of Defence personnel are based in Queensland.

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South Australia to benefit from Defence Spending

The 2002-03 Defence Budget will bring significant benefits to South Australia, with further progress on $69 million worth of work for South Australian Defence facilities projects, the Defence Minister Robert Hill said tonight.

There will be $44 million spent in 2002-03.

The biggest South Australian project being funded is stage one of the RAAF Edinburgh Redevelopment at Salisbury. This will provide new administrative, workshop and warehousing facilities, an upgrade of engineering services and an aircraft shelter. Construction should start in mid-2002 with completion by mid-2003.

Another project foreshadowed for approval in 2002-03 is the RAAF Edinburgh Electronic Warfare Squadron Building Upgrade.

Some 5,948 members of the Australian Defence Force (ADF) and Department of Defence personnel are based in South Australia.

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Victoria to benefit from Defence spending

The 2002-03 Defence Budget will bring significant benefits to Victoria, with further progress on $137 million of work for Victorian Defence facilities projects, the Defence Minister Senator Robert Hill said tonight.

There will be $57 million spent in 2002-03.

The biggest Victorian project to be progressed during 2002-03 is the relocation of Defence Science and Technology Organisation's Aeronautical and Maritime Research Laboratories, from Maribyrnong to Fishermans Bend. The relocation will include the integration of common functions, and the construction of enhanced research and laboratory facilities, and will permit the Maribyrnong site to be sold. The project is currently in the design stage and early works packages have been awarded. Construction of major work packages is planned for mid-2002 to be completed in late 2003.

The Defence Communications and Information Training School in Watsonia is foreshadowed for approval in 2002-03.

Some 14,437 members of the Australian Defence Force (ADF) and Department of Defence personnel are based in Victoria.

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Western Australia to benefit from Defence spending

The 2002-03 Defence Budget will bring significant benefits to Western Australia, with further progress on $24 million for WA Defence facilities projects, the Defence Minister Senator Robert Hill said tonight.

There will be $13 million spent in 2002-03.

New work will begin at HMAS Stirling and Swanbourne.

Some 6,348 members of the Australian Defence Force (ADF) and Department of Defence personnel are based in Western Australia.

ENDS

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