As the Australian Defence Force prepared to begin additional assistance to the whole-of-government COVID-19 response, Lieutenant General John Frewen is asking Australians to support their troops.
FILE PHOTO (December 2018): Then Major General [now Lieutenant General] John Frewen addresses deployed personnel in the Middle East. Photo by WO2 Neil Ruskin.
His plea comes in the wake of [ill-informed and largely ignorant, hysterical, negative and potentially dangerous] social media suggestions that the ADF’s involvement in compulsory isolation of people returning from overseas, which starts at midnight tonight, is somehow ‘proof’ that Australia is now under martial law.
“In light of the Prime Minister’s significant announcement, I wanted to provide some reassurance to the Australian Defence Force and the wider community,” Lieutenant General Frewen said.
“For more than 100 years, our military has been defending Australia and protecting Australians.
“We most recently saw this over summer, when thousands of regular and reserve personnel mobilised in a matter of days to help their fellow Australians in bushfire-affected areas.
“We are now answering the call again to help save lives and protect livelihoods during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“ADF has been providing planning, logistics and contact-tracing support to the whole-of-government response.
“As directed by the Prime Minister and Minister for Defence, the ADF will begin additional assistance over the weekend.
“When requested, we will be assisting the states and territories in two ways
- by supporting mandatory quarantine arrangements for air arrivals into Australia; and,
- by checking self-isolation orders are being followed in homes and residences.
“This is no small endeavour and not a responsibility we take lightly.
“We stand ready to support the states and territories in ensuring compliance with quarantine arrangements.
“We are here to support the state and territory law and enforcement agencies.
“It is important to reiterate the ADF does not have law-enforcement powers.
“We are simply assisting civilian agencies as they undertake the important work of ensuring that rules are being followed.
“Finally, a message to all Australians – when you see Defence personnel at airports or on the streets, remember, they are part of the communities they are trying to help.
“They are answering the call, as Defence has done for more than a century.
“We must continue to work together to slow the spread and to save lives.
“I have every confidence the ADF will serve you well.
“Please support them as they support you.”