Attorney-General Visits Christchurch to Thank the Many Australian’s Involved in the Earthquake Recovery Process
Christchurch, New Zealand (News4us.com) March 04, 2011
Attorney-General Robert McClelland will visit Christchurch today to thank the hundreds of Australians working in the city to help the community recover from last week’s earthquake.
Mr McClelland will meet New Zealand Minister for Earthquake Recovery Gerry Brownlee as well as Australian Urban Search and Rescue personnel and Australian Federal Police, visit the National Crisis Management Centre and earthquake affected areas and have a barbeque with members of the Australian Medical Assistance Team.
Mr McClelland said a fresh Australian Urban Search and Rescue Team – comprising 72 personnel from every Australian State and Territory – will also arrive in Christchurch today as part of Australia’s continuing assistance for the earthquake recovery.
“Since the earthquake struck Christchurch last Tuesday, more than 500 Australians have been in Christchurch assisting with the emergency and recovery effort,” Mr McClelland said.
“This has included more than 300 Police Officers, 143 Urban Search and Rescue specialists, Emergency Management Australia staff, nurses, doctors and consular staff, many of whom have been working here since the hours after the earthquake struck eleven days ago.
“A 45-strong team of Police Disaster Victim Identification specialists from various States and Territories is now also on the ground assisting their NZ counterparts.
“All these Australians are doing a tremendous job and the New Zealand Government has conveyed their sincere thanks for the efforts of these people.
“On behalf of the Australian Government, thank you for your tireless work in incredibly difficult circumstances.”
Mr McClelland said the two Urban Search and Rescue Teams (USAR) and the Australian Medical Assistance Team involved in the initial response to the emergency have started returning home, with a number of personnel due to return today.
“These 143 USAR specialists and 25 strong Medical Assistance Team have been working around the clock since last week,” he said.
“With these USAR teams ending their rotation, the New Zealand Government has requested an additional Australian USAR team which will arrive today.”
The USAR team due to arrive today will be made up with specialists from every State and Territory: New South Wales (16 USAR specialists), Queensland (15), Victoria (11), South Australia (9), Western Australia (6), Tasmania (7), Northern Territory (4), Australian Capital Territory (4).
“I am also in Christchurch to restate Australia’s offer to the New Zealand Government that we continue to provide any assistance they need,” Mr McClelland said.
“The Government is also progressing requests from the NZ Government for a portable desalination plant and temporary tent accommodation for up to 400 people who are unable to return to their homes
“Emergency Management Australia representatives remain located at the Crisis Command Centre to ensure we’re able to action and requests for additional assistance as quickly as possible.”
Australia continues to assist New Zealand as it recovers from the Christchurch earthquake with:
• 143 Urban Search and Rescue experts, to be replaced by another 70 USAR specialists today;
• More than 300 Australian Police Officers – comprising 50 Australian Federal Police Officers and 250 Officers from NSW, Victoria and South Australia – providing assistance to NZ Police as part of their general duties;
• A 75 bed Australian field hospital with medical and support staff, which is operating in Christchurch’s eastern suburbs;
• A 25 strong Australian Medical Assistance Team (AUSMAT) of doctors, nurses and surgeons working from Christchurch Hospital, which is returning to Australia today;
• A 45-strong team of Police Disaster Victim Identification Specialists from various States and Territories is now also on the ground assisting their NZ counterparts.
• Two Emergency Management Australia Liaison Officers based in the Crisis Command Centre in New Zealand to ensure any requested assistance is provided as quickly as possible; and
• Around sixteen Department of Foreign Affairs officials are on the ground in Christchurch to assist Australians, as well as six Centrelink Social Workers who are providing emotional support.
The Prime Minister has also announced the Australian Government will donate $5 million to the Red Cross NZ Earthquake Appeal.
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