Interview with Michael Rowland, ABC News Breakfast

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The Hon Richard Marles MP

Deputy Prime Minister

Minister for Defence

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02 6277 7800

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25 July 2022

SUBJECTS: ADF support to Aged Care

MICHAEL ROWLAND, HOST: MPs are arriving in Canberra this morning, ready to sit for the first time tomorrow. Let's go straight to the Deputy Prime Minister and Defence Minister, Richard Marles, in Canberra. Mr Marles, good morning to you.

DEPUTY PRIME MINISTER: Good morning Michael, how are you?

ROWLAND: Very well, thank you. So ADF troops, as we’re reporting, extended until at least the end of September. What does that say about the COVID crisis and the aged care sector in Australia?

DEPUTY PRIME MINISTER: Well there is a significant number of outbreaks as you reported, more than a thousand across the country. And so it's important that we need to be doing everything we can to meet the challenge of that. It's not just extending the military support to aged care, it's actually increasing it up to 250 personnel through until the end of September. And it's an important step, given what the sector faces. It's obviously important to note that this is not a long-term solution, it's not what the Defence Force is for. But in this moment, it's really important that we do everything we can to provide all the assistance necessary, and so this is the right step to take.

ROWLAND: As your colleague, the Aged Care Minister Anika Wells, says, this is an extreme measure. So what exactly are the ADF personnel doing in the aged care homes?

DEPUTY PRIME MINISTER: Well, it's a significant contribution, as you say, and it's a range of personnel who are going to be providing assistance across the medical space within aged care homes. It is an extreme measure and it's right to describe it as that. We're doing this now because of the significant number of outbreaks, but as I said, it's important to understand that we can't see this as a normal fall back, to go to the Defence Force. We saw the previous government rely, I think, too heavily on this because they didn't do the work to make sure that there was a surge workforce in place, which we are ensuring happens. But given the number of outbreaks that we've got right now, this is the right thing to do, and I've got no doubt that those personnel will equip themselves professionally and fantastically in the way they do their work.

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