Media release from the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade

D2 / 11 MARCH 2002

September 11 - Newspaper Claims

Christopher Kremmer's claims in the Sydney Morning Herald and The Age today that the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade has obstructed compensation efforts by the Australian families of September 11 victims and provided misleading information are unfounded in view of the facts.  His claims are also an unwarranted attack on the staff who have worked round the clock to alleviate the distress of those traumatised by the crisis.

The Department has worked hard since September 11 to provide support to the families of the victims of the terrorist attacks in the United States.  Our Consul-General in New York Ken Allen opened his home to the families of Australian victims.

The Department's policy has always been to facilitate contact between the families if that is their wish.  In response to a request by one family, we wrote to all of them on 31 October 2001 asking if they would like their details to be passed on to the other families.  We sent a further letter on 27 November listing those who had responded positively.  We also provided updates as others responded.

We needed to take this consultative approach because of privacy considerations.

We did not receive a response from the Adelaide family identified in the article in the Sydney Morning Herald and The Age today.

The article also refers to a memorial service in New York. This service was arranged at short notice by the Australian and New Zealand communities in New York with support from the Australian Consulate General.  Those family members who were known to be in New York at the time attended.  When he became aware of the arrangements, Mr Downer, who was on his way to the United States at the time, reorganised his program to attend.

Eight families took up the Government's offer to pay for family members to fly to New York, and our Missions in the United States provided a range of on-ground support.

The Department has also assisted the families in their dealings with New York authorities in the very sad but necessary process of collecting personal data, including DNA samples, for the identification of remains. 

Media inquiries:  Julie McDonald 6261 1555/0417 219 785