Hill Confirms Resignation; UN Diplomatic Appointment Expected Soon

Senator Robert Hill, outgoing Minister for DefenceThe Minister for Defence, Senator Robert Hill, has this morning confirmed his resignation as a minister in the Howard government. Hill indicated he would also resign from the Senate in the coming months. He denied being offered the post of ambassador to the United Nations but indicated he would be willing to continue in public service.

Hill is also the government leader in the Senate. His resignation sets the scene for a major ministerial reshuffle. The Prime Minister, John Howard, is to address the National Press Club next Wednesday, January 25th, by which time the reshuffle is expected to be announced.

Hill’s position in the ministry paves the way for the promotion of either Victorian backbencher Andrew Robb or NSW backbencher Malcolm Turnbull. Media reports in recent days suggest that Senator Nick Minchin, the Finance Minister, will assume Hill’s leadership position in the Senate and possibly take on Defence.

Hill served as Minister for the Environment from the Howard government’s election in March 1996 until November 2001 when he became Minister for Defence.

Howard paid tribute to Hill, describing his political career as “distinguished and highly successful”. Acknowledging “different perspectives” on some issues, a reference to Hill’s reputation as a small-l liberal, Howard maintained that this “served to strengthen” the “close working relationship” which “contributed significantly to the internal cohesion of the Government”.

  • Listen to Senator Robert Hill’s Resignation Press Conference.

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  • Resignation statement by Senator Robert Hill
  • Howard Pays Tribute To Hill
  • Listen to John Howard’s comments.

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Resignation Statement by Senator Robert Hill

Senator Robert Hill, the Minister for Defence, announced his resignation today.

Hill is expected to take up the position of Australian Ambassador to the United Nations. [Read more…]


Howard Pays Tribute To Hill

The Prime Minister, John Howard, has paid tribute to Senator Robert Hill’s “distinguished and highly successful political career”.

Senator Hill today announced his resignation as Defence Minister and indicated he would soon leave Parliament. He is expected to take the position of Australian Ambassador to the United Nations, in New York.

Hill served as Minister for the Environment from the Howard government’s election in March 1996 until November 2001 when he became Minister for Defence.

Acknowledging “different perspectives” on some issues, a reference to Hill’s reputation as a small-l liberal, Howard maintained that this “served to strengthen” the “close working relationship” which “contributed significantly to the internal cohesion of the Government”.

Speaking to the media in Sydney, Howard indicated that he would announce ministerial changes sometime next week. He was at pains to reassure the National Party that its numbers would not be reduced, citing the “statistically precise” proportion of ministers and parliamentary secretaries that currently exists.

  • Listen to Howard’s press conference on Senator Robert Hill.

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This is the text of a media statement from the Prime Minister, John Howard.

SENATOR THE HON ROBERT HILL

Robert Hill’s departure is a huge loss for the Government.

His resignation from the Senate will end 25 years of parliamentary service to the people of South Australia and to the Liberal Party. [Read more…]


Hill And Rumsfeld Meet

Senator Robert Hill, Minister for DefenceThe Minister for Defence, Senator Robert Hill, has met with his American counterpart, Donald Rumsfeld, in Singapore.

Senator Hill attended the Fourth Asia Security Conference (Shangri La Dialogue) hosted by the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS). He lead Australia’s delegation, including the departmental Secretary for Defence, Mr Ric Smith, and Chief of Air Force, Air Marshal Angus Houston. The dialogue attracts high level representation from Australia, South East Asian nations, Japan, Republic of Korea, Pakistan, New Zealand, UK, US, France and Canada. Senator Hill delivered an address to the conference on ‘Asia Pacific Armed Forces and Counter Terrorism’. [Read more…]


HMAS Kanimbla Sets Sail For Banda Aceh

The Defence Minister, Senator Robert Hill, has met with the Australian Defence Force contingent who will sail on board HMAS Kanimbla, taking relief aid to the Banda Aceh region of Sumatra, in Indonesia.

The crew of the Kanimbla will take the number of Australian Defence Force personnel to over 860 in the Indonesian region.

This is the text of a media release from the Minister for Defence, Senator Robert Hill.

DEFENCE MINISTER VISITS HMAS KANIMBLA IN DARWIN

HMAS KanimblaDefence Minister Robert Hill today met with men and women from the Australian Defence Force contingent who will set sail on board HMAS Kanimbla this evening, taking much needed relief aid for the people of Sumatra in Indonesia.

Senator Hill said the number of Australian Defence Force personnel now in the Indonesian region had grown to over 460, and this number will increase by another 400 once the Kanimbla arrives at Banda Aceh.

“The Government is continually reviewing the ADF contribution to make sure it provides the most appropriate level of assistance to the people of Sumatra,” Senator Hill said.

“ADF operations staff continue to meet with their Indonesian, Singaporean and United States counterparts to make sure that military relief efforts are fully coordinated and delivered to where the needs are greatest”.

“ADF personnel are doing an outstanding job in delivering much-needed humanitarian assistance”.

“The arrival of the Kanimbla with her crew of 250 sailors and an engineer detachment of 150 soldiers with heavy plant equipment will further strengthen our relief efforts”.

“We already have Army engineers in Banda Aceh examining the area, identifying and prioritising the reconstruction requirements. The ADF engineering effort is likely to focus on repairing port facilities, clearing debris, and constructing camps and accommodation for displaced people.”

Along with much needed relief aid, HMAS Kanimbla will carry the following personnel and assets:

  • 250 Sailors;
  • Two Sea King helicopters;
  • Two landing craft (LCM8’s) capable of carrying 54 tons of cargo each and delivering supplies directly ashore without the use of wharf facilities;
  • an engineer detachment of 150 personnel;
  • Ten 4WD Unimog Trucks;
  • Six Mack trucks;
  • Four bulldozers;
  • Three front end loaders;
  • Twelve Land Rovers; and
  • Various other construction supplies.

Facts About HMAS Kanimbla

HMAS Kanimbla ships badgeThe HMAS Kanimbla was originally built for the United States Navy and acquired by the Royal Australian Navy in 1994. The ship has undergone extensive modifications for its new role as helicopter capable amphibious transport.

Its primary roles are to transport, lodge ashore and support an Army contingent of 450 troops, their vehicles and equipment. Kanimbla is fitted with helicopter hangers capable of supporting up to four Army Blackhawk or three of the larger Navy Seaking helicopters. Two helicopters can operate simultaneously from the aft flight deck, while a third can operate from the flight deck located forward of the bridge.

Two Army LCM8 landing craft can also be carried on the forward flight deck to provide ship to shore transport. They are lifted on and off by a 70 tonned crane. Accessed through a stern door, 810 square metres of storage space is available on the vehicle deck for Army vehicles and other large items of equipment.

For Army and Navy exercises the ship has additional operations and planning rooms that provide for both an Amphibious Group Commander and a Landing Force Commander. A comprehensive and modern array of communications equipment is fitted to support these joint operations.

Kanimbla is fitted with the largest and most comprehensive medical facilities in the fleet.

Source: Royal Australian Navy