26 March 2015
Vanuatu Prime Minister Joe Natuman has told the Chief of the Defence Force, Air Chief Marshal Mark Binskin that residents clapped and cheered when they saw the first Royal Australian Air Force C-17A Globemaster III aircraft arrive in Port Vila with aid, in the aftermath of Tropical Cyclone Pam.
Air Chief Marshal Binskin, accompanied by Australia’s Foreign Minister Julie Bishop, visited deployed Australian Defence Force (ADF) personnel on March 22 and said the Vanuatu people were relieved that help had arrived, and they had not been forgotten.
“I was impressed with how ADF units reacted so quickly to what was a critical situation for the people of Vanuatu,” he said.
“Being able to bring the team together across the three services and to deploy over here with two C-17s and two C-130 Hercules aircraft on the first day was fantastic.
“Right across the board everyone is doing a great job.”
When the Royal Australian Navy’s heavy-left ship, HMAS Tobruk, arrived on March 23, 2015 along with the rotary wing assets the total number of ADF personnel deployed to Vanuatu reached almost 460 people.
“That’s a pretty significant contribution to the aftermath of Cyclone Pam,” Air Chief Marshal Binskin said.
“I’d like to thank everyone in the ADF who deployed at short notice and also thank their families for accepting that we’ve called their loved ones away from home at such short notice.
“I’d like their families back home to know that what they’re doing here is very worthwhile.”
Ms Bishop told Australian Department of Foreign Affairs staff, ADF members and Australian volunteers she had travelled to Vanuatu on the 18th Australian military aircraft into Port Vila.
“I think there have been 11 C-17s and seven C-130s,” she said.
Ms Bishop said she was pleased Australia had been able to get lifesaving supplies, humanitarian equipment and, importantly, personnel on the ground quickly.
“I thank everyone for just getting on with the job in typical Australian style,” she said.
“I couldn’t be more proud of the work you’re doing.”