Not a photo opportunity: Defence backs members’ flood response

By Jackson Graham

Thursday March 10, 2022

Members of the ADF (Australian Defence Force) are seen helping in the clean up of flood affected properties in the suburb of Goodna in Ipswich, Tuesday, March 8, 2022. (AAP Image/Darren England)

The Australian Defence Force has backed its response to the Queensland and NSW floods following criticisms of members filming the cleanup efforts as part of their official duties.

Vision surfaced on social media early in the flood response of army officials filming their colleagues emptying a trailer while a man drives past and claims the activity is “unbelievable” and implies the resources were needed elsewhere. 

But the Defence Department says describing the work “as a photo opportunity misrepresents the values of all those who serve”. 

“ADF personnel deployed to the flood-affected areas of New South Wales and Queensland are focused on the important task of helping local communities,” a spokesperson told The Mandarin

“Defence is aware of a small number of social media posts misrepresenting the hard work of Australian Defence Force personnel who are supporting the Queensland and NSW flood response and clean up.” 

The ADF deploys imagery specialists on Defence operations and activities domestically and internationally to record its work in communities it supports. 

“This allows Australians to keep informed of our activities in support of state and federal governments,” Defence’s spokesperson said. 

Prime minister Scott Morrison defended the role of the ADF at a press conference in Lismore on Wednesday, saying it was  “unrealistic” to expect full resources to be deployed immediately. 

“I know there’s been some criticism both levelled at the federal government and state government, but don’t blame the ADF, OK? We won’t cop that, the ADF are doing an amazing job,” he said. 

“We don’t have those resources, which have ADF just waiting around the corner. I mean, we were assembling those resources, we were pre-positioning those people. In fact, there were ADF saving people with helicopters. winching them off routes on Monday.” 

The personnel have been assisting with the cleanup, delivering food supplies to isolated communities, clearing roads, supporting evacuation centres, assisting in the restoration of critical communications infrastructure and rescuing people stranded. They have been working in the field since February 25. 

Major general David Thomae, who is heading a task force responding to the floods, apologised to people who did not feel they had received support fast enough earlier this week. 

“I empathise completely with their plight. The scale of devastation is extraordinary in northern New South Wales. It is something that is very sobering for all of us to look at,” Thomae said. 

“What I can say is from an Australian Defence Force perspective, we have thrown the resource we have had available immediately to respond, and that has saved lives.”


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