Friday, 29 Sep 2023

Reliance on Australias military during natural disasters comes at a cost, senator says

Reliance on Australias military during natural disasters comes at a cost, senator says


Reliance on Australias military during natural disasters comes at a cost, senator says

Australia needs to rethink how it uses its defence force for natural disasters, reserving its troops for conflict and limiting their deployment except for in the most extreme events, according to the government's special envoy for disaster recovery, senator Tony Sheldon.

After the release of the defence strategic review on Monday, the senator also said the government should help locals respond to emergencies before considering creating a new civilian agency.

"Defence should be the force of last resort for domestic aid to the civil community, except in extreme circumstances," it said.

In response, the government acknowledged that the ADF helping with natural disasters "comes at a cost to force preparedness".

On Monday the prime minister, Anthony Albanese, told reporters in Canberra the call for disaster response capability separate to defence was "a serious suggestion" because "the role of the Australian defence force is primarily not to deal with our natural disasters and those domestic issues".

"And we know that one of the national security issues we're dealing with is climate change, because climate change is resulting in, as the science predicted, more frequent and more intense natural disasters."

Albanese flagged "further consideration of how we deal with these natural disasters".

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