I have written to the Chief of the Defence Force regarding the support that the Australian Defence Force (ADF) is providing to the bushfire fighting efforts.
The forecast for tomorrow is deeply worrying. Areas across the country are expected to be at catastrophic fire danger levels and all Commonwealth agencies stand ready to assist state authorities and the community.
Accordingly, I have asked Chief of the Defence Force General Angus Campbell to give an order to local base commanders, making clear that they have the authority to use Defence resources to respond to any local contingencies under Defence Assistance to the Civil Community Category 1 (DACC 1).
Senior ADF officers and other commanders are empowered to provide emergency assistance in local emergency situations to save human life, prevent extensive loss of animal life, or widespread damage to property.
While our ADF personnel are not trained firefighters, they can provide other support for the nation’s front line first responders.
In the last few days, Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) aircrafts transported firefighter strike teams from Canberra, Adelaide and Hobart to Port Macquarie:
- A RAAF 737 Boeing Business Jet transported ACT Rural Fire Service firefighters from Canberra to Port Macquarie on 8 November 2019.
- A RAAF C-130J aircraft transported firefighters and their equipment from Adelaide to Port Macquarie on 9 November 2019.
- A RAAF C-130J aircraft transported firefighters and their equipment from Hobart to Port Macquarie on 10 November 2019.
In addition, Singleton Army Barracks in New South Wales is on standby to provide accommodation and catering support to firefighters from the Victorian Country Fire Authority.
Queensland Fire and Emergency Service are using Kokoda Barracks in Canungra to refuel aircraft assisting with the bushfire fighting efforts.
Defence has enhanced its planning and liaison support to emergency services including embedding planners into Queensland State Disaster Coordination Centres and New South Wales Rural Fire Service headquarters.
I pay tribute to the emergency services personnel fighting these fires across the country and I want to acknowledge the excellent support the Australian Defence Force has been providing to the bushfire fighting effort.
Further questions on the bushfires in New South Wales and Queensland should be directed to New South Wales Rural Fire Service and Queensland Fire and Emergency Service.