Joint Media Release
- Senator the Hon Bridget McKenzie, Minister for Agriculture
The Australian Defence Force continues its important work supporting emergency services with on the ground assistance to bushfire affected communities. This support will now extend to the essential task of livestock disposal in areas most severely affected.
Minister for Agriculture, Bridget McKenzie, and Minister for Defence, Senator the Hon Linda Reynolds CSC, said it was important stock disposal began as quickly as possible to reduce the risk of contamination and disease, as well as to relieve a burden from the shoulders of farmers already stretched to capacity.
"The size of the task is still being assessed but we expect the volume of stock losses to vary across fire affected regions and within regions," Minister McKenzie said.
"Unfortunately for some farms, they will have lost considerable numbers of sheep and cattle, while others will have fared better.
"The situation is likely to be beyond our local farmers and some local government areas who currently have their resources deployed to battle these devastating fires.
"Our farmers are also our volunteer firefighters – by day they’ve been protecting their homes and farms only to don the uniform and protect their community by night. Their efforts are heroic but they’re not superhuman and they deserve our assistance after the days and weeks they have put in.
"The sooner we can dispose of dead livestock the sooner our farmers can begin the hard and long road to recovery. Our Government is here to support them on that journey because a strong agriculture sector underpins strong rural and regional communities and ultimately a strong national economy."
Minister Reynolds said Australian Defence Force members were well placed to help with the task after their experiences in responding to the North Queensland Floods.
"The loss of livestock is terrible and Defence is working with state authorities to bury the carcasses as quickly as possible," Minister Reynolds said.
"Like all emergency response efforts, the priority is providing support where the need is most critical, and where the ADF’s unique capabilities are best suited.
"The Australian Defence Force is not here to take jobs away from local contractors. We will only step in when they’re not available at the request of state authorities."
Farmers who need assistance with assessing or disposing of livestock disposal should contact their relevant state agency.
- Victoria: Emergency Victoria on 1800 226 226
- NSW: Department of Primary Industries Agricultural and Animal Services Hotline on 1800 814 647 or their local Land Services office.
- South Australia: PIRSA Hotline on 1800 255 556