The Australian Defence Force will be given stronger powers to intervene in national emergencies under new laws set to be drawn up by the Federal Government.
According to a report in the Sydney Morning Herald today, the government plans to amend the Defence Act to give Prime Minister Scott Morrison the power to deploy the ADF anywhere in Australia during a national emergency like the COVID-19 pandemic.
The move follows statements from Victorian Premier, Daniel Andrews at the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety this week.
The Premier told the Commission his state had never been offered ADF assistance to manage its disastrous COVID-19 hotel quarantine arrangements.
His failure to do so is now being widely blamed for Victoria’s shocking second wave of COVID-19 cases.
Under the proposed Act changes, states and territories would still need to request ADF support, the SMH report stated, but the changes would make deployment of ADF personnel an easier option.
It said under the current Act there was no allowance for the callout of ADF members in the event of a natural disaster or public health emergency and nothing that clearly stated their roles and responsibilities.
Current Federal laws only allow the deployment of ADF for incidents of domestic terrorism.
Meanwhile it’s being reported that Victoria’s ‘patient zero’ was a night duty manager at Rydges Hotel on Swanston Street, a hotel used by the government as part of its quarantine program.
Emails leaked to The Age show the man reported that he was suffering a fever on May 25. The following day the employee tested positive to coronavirus. It’s believed he caught the virus from a returned traveller who was being quarantined in the hotel.