Minister for Defence – Defence to transport base camp to Tasmania in support of firefighting efforts – 15 February 2016

Minister for Defence Marise Payne and Minister for Justice Michael Keenan today announced Australian Government assistance to the Tasmanian firefighting effort, with the deployment of a portable base camp to house additional firefighters battling blazes in remote areas.

The base camp will be established in the northwest of the state to accommodate approximately 250 firefighters from Victoria and New South Wales arriving in Tasmania over the coming days. 

Senator Payne said Defence was pleased to be able to assist the national response to the Tasmanian fires.

“Dozens of fires continue to burn in Tasmania, in a fire event that has stretched more than 30 days and has impacted part of the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area,” Senator Payne said.

“In response to a request from Tasmania to Emergency Management Australia, Defence is providing air lift support for the transportation of a base camp from Victoria to Tasmania to accommodate up to 250 personnel.”

Minister Keenan said the Tasmanian fires represented a significant challenge that was being met through a coordinated national response.

“Firefighting resources such as remote area teams have already been deployed to Tasmania from Victoria, New South Wales, Queensland, South Australia, the ACT and New Zealand, under an arrangement set up by the Commonwealth Government in partnership with all states and territories,” Mr Keenan said.

“We are aware of the effort that has gone into identifying areas of high ecological value in the Tasmanian Wilderness which may be affected by the fires and we are keen to ensure the Tasmanian Fire Service has what it needs to be able to prioritise protection of those areas. 

“The fires are a significant and ongoing challenge, and the Australian Government, including our Defence forces, stands ready to provide further assistance to Tasmanian authorities if required.”

On Saturday, in response to the Tasmanian request, the Australian Government Disaster Response Plan, or COMDISPLAN, was activated to facilitate the provision of Australian Government assistance.

As part of a nationally coordinated response, the camp is being provided by the Victorian Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning.

Six priority containers will be moved by road from Melbourne to RAAF Base Richmond, where two Royal Australian Air Force C-17A Globemaster III heavy-lift aircraft will be loaded and flown to Hobart.

Appropriately, other components of the camp will be moved via road and sea through separate, contracted providers.

Media contacts:  
Henry Budd 0429 531 143 / Hayley Channer 0447 047 127 (Minister Payne)
Emily Broadbent 0400 390 008 / Shannen Wilkinson 0476 820 816 (Minister Keenan)


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