Topics: ADF support to Victoria, Beirut explosion
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DAVID KOCH: Victoria is grappling with the overwhelming task of contact tracing more than 7,000 active coronavirus cases. Defence Force Personnel have joined the tracing teams, as well as helping with testing, door knocks, control points and community engagement. There are about 1,400 ADF members on the ground in Victoria as part of Operation COVID-19 Assist, and it's expected more will soon join the effort. Defence Minister Linda Reynolds joins me from Canberra. How important is the ADF to Victoria's response?
MINISTER REYNOLDS: Good morning Kochie and the ADF continue to be vitally important, not only in Victoria, but also in all other states and territories where we're providing significant support to local authorities. In Victoria, we are now ramping up to 1,500 ADF personnel, and as you've said, we've got 450 already doing contact tracing and quarantine compliance and we're currently gearing up another 325 to go and do the compliance check and door knocking. We've also got 180 now doing medical testing, 160 at vehicle checkpoints. So we are providing a very significant contribution to the Victorian authorities.
DAVID KOCH: And you've got some training with the Victoria Ambulance, don't you? Is that sort of on the testing role?
MINISTER REYNOLDS: No, it’s not actually Kochie. What we are doing is we've got 20 personnel currently undergoing ambulance vehicle driver training and also more general duties. They are doing that with the Victorian ambulance service so that they can provide support and relief to emergency vehicle crews and really that just goes to demonstrate how versatile the ADF can be and are.
DAVID KOCH: Well you are everywhere at the moment too because you're playing a role in the wake of the Beirut explosion as well aren't you? What are you doing there?
MINISTER REYNOLDS: Yes Kochie, we are. Currently, most Australian's wouldn't realise, we still have over 2,500 ADF personnel deployed overseas in the Middle East and right across the Indo-Pacific. Yesterday, we were able to respond very quickly to our Whole-of-Government response. DFAT is coordinating the Whole-of-Government response to this terrible catastrophe and defence is certainly doing its best. So out of our main operating base in the Middle East, we've deployed a small team of communication and medical experts to support the embassy's response. So they're restoring communications, they’re assessing embassy damage and they’re also providing medical support. Today, our Defence Attaché in Amman and a small team will fly into Beirut to bolster support. So the ADF is certainly doing its part.
DAVID KOCH: Gee, the ADF do a great job. Thanks Minister.
MINISTER REYNOLDS: Thanks Kochie.