Today I (Minister for Defence, Stephen Smith) visited Australian Defence Force personnel in south-east Queensland and thanked them for their rapid response to the Queensland flood crisis.
ADF personnel, in cooperation with other Commonwealth and State Governments and local authorities, are working to save lives and reduce the impact of the floods on Queenslanders.
Together with the Prime Minister, who is also visiting Brisbane, I met Colonel Luke Foster, the Commander of Operation Queensland Flood Assist, at Enoggera Barracks in Brisbane. The Prime Minister and I thanked Colonel Foster and his team, Joint Task Force 637, for their dedicated and professional response to the tragic events of recent days.
The Joint Task Force currently consists of 223 ADF personnel and includes 15 helicopters, six fixed-wing aircraft, trucks, a water purification detachment and other ADF specialist equipment.
These assets, drawn from the Air Force, Army and Navy, are providing search and rescue, relief, evacuation and other support to the people of Queensland.
I also visited the Royal Australian Air Force Base Amberley, which is the operating base for ADF aircraft assisting with the flood-relief operations.
At Amberley I had the opportunity to meet with some of the men and women supporting the ADF’s search and rescue and evacuation operations. I am proud of the work they are doing in difficult conditions, all the more so given many of them have been personally affected by the floods.
Defence personnel have played a crucial role in the flood-relief effort, evacuating hundreds of people from Forest Hill in the wake of the devastating flash flood in Toowoomba and the Lockyer Valley.
During my visit, I also met Premier Anna Bligh and participated in a briefing by her emergency management team on the developing flood situation and the response of the Queensland authorities.
Major General Mick Slater, recently seconded by the Commonwealth to the Queensland Government to lead Queensland’s Flood Recovery Taskforce, also briefed us on the challenges of recovery and early efforts to address them.
The Australian Government, including Defence, stands shoulder to shoulder with those affected by the floods, and stands ready to provide additional assistance.
Ministerial Support and Public Affairs,
Department of Defence,