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Last Updated: Sunday, 16 September 2007, 10:09 GMT 11:09 UK
Australia navy in breast op row
Australian navy ship HMAS Adelaide - file photo
The navy said breast implants were not to make sailors "look sexy"
Australia's opposition Labor Party has questioned the need for female sailors to be given breast enlargements paid for with public money.

An armed forces spokesman defended the operations, saying they were carried out for psychological reasons, not to make sailors "look sexy".

Brigadier Andrew Nikolic said the "holistic needs" of service personnel were considered under defence policy.

But he said breast augmentations were not routinely funded by the military.

"We do consider the broader needs of our people, both physical and psychological," Brig Nikolic said.

"But that is a long way from saying that if someone doesn't like their appearance, Defence will fund things like breast augmentation as a matter of routine - that is just not correct."

He was speaking after one plastic surgeon said he had carried out breast enlargements on two sailors, aged 25 and 32, for A$10,000 (4,200) each.

Brig Nikolic said such operations were only recommended after a medical evaluation.

But the opposition Labor Party said it wanted details on the cases.

"On the face of it, taxpayer-funded breast enhancement is a questionable practice," said Labor defence spokesman Joel Fitzgibbon.

"I have to say [it] smacks of a government out of touch."

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