Australia — Minister for Defence, Stephen Smith on Queensland flooding

TONY EASTLEY: The military’s focus is now set to turn to the recov­ery of bod­ies.
The Fed­er­al Gov­ern­ment will send in high wheel army trucks and oth­er heavy mil­i­tary vehi­cles into the dev­as­tat­ed Lock­y­er Val­ley, and flood rav­aged city of Toowoom­ba.

The Defence Min­is­ter Stephen Smith spoke to Saman­tha Haw­ley about the increased mil­i­tary com­mit­ment.

STEPHEN SMITH: Well as a result of our con­ver­sa­tions with Pre­mier Bligh and also with our Defence per­son­nel in Queens­land yes­ter­day, fur­ther today or lat­er today the Prime Min­is­ter will announce a deploy­ment of fur­ther assets.

We’ve made a con­sid­er­able con­tri­bu­tion in terms of heli­copters in par­tic­u­lar. But to assist the search and res­cue and recov­ery, par­tic­u­lar­ly in the Val­ley where there’ve been ter­ri­ble cir­cum­stances, today we’ll announce a fur­ther con­tri­bu­tion of high wheel based army trucks which can get bet­ter access in dif­fi­cult con­di­tions. Also, a deploy­ment of Bush­mas­ter vehi­cles for the same pur­pose. We’re also look­ing at pro­vid­ing a small num­ber of amphibi­ous vehi­cles which can manoeu­vre in the flood waters par­tic­u­lar­ly as the flood waters start to recede but where vehi­cle access remains very dif­fi­cult.

SAMANTHA HAWLEY: And what will be the main aim of the mil­i­tary peo­ple on board those vehi­cles?

STEPHEN SMITH: We think there is going to be a par­tic­u­lar prob­lem with trag­ic out­comes in the Val­ley. And that’s where our heli­copter effort has been in the last cou­ple of days. We are steel­ing our­selves for ter­ri­ble out­comes there in terms of loss of life and Pre­mier Bligh has made that clear.

SAMANTHA HAWLEY: So what you’re say­ing is that the sol­diers will be look­ing for bod­ies?

STEPHEN SMITH: That will be part of it. I think we have to steel our­selves for that ter­ri­ble out­come.

SAMANTHA HAWLEY: Exact­ly what areas will they be going into and do you know how many sol­diers will be on those vehi­cles?

STEPHEN SMITH: First­ly there’ll be a small num­ber of vehi­cles. We tried to utilise vehi­cles at the height of the storm a few days ago but road con­di­tions did­n’t allow that. So we’ve got access to a small num­ber of high wheel based vehi­cles; we have access to Bush­mas­ters. Bush­mas­ters are able to car­ry half a dozen or more either Defence per­son­nel or State Emer­gency Ser­vice per­son­nel.

The small amphibi­ous vehi­cles like­wise can car­ry half a dozen Emer­gency Ser­vices per­son­nel or Defence per­son­nel. The pre­cise num­ber of vehi­cles and Bush­mas­ters will depend upon access and cir­cum­stances.

We will have, we expect, a small num­ber of amphibi­ous vehi­cles that will essen­tial­ly focus on the after­math of the tragedy in Toowoom­ba and recov­ery effort in the Val­ley.

TONY EASTLEY: Defence Min­is­ter Stephen Smith speak­ing to Saman­tha Haw­ley.

Press release
Min­is­te­r­i­al Sup­port and Pub­lic Affairs,
Depart­ment of Defence,
Can­ber­ra, Aus­tralia

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