Just when you think the Prime Minister is starting to get the seriousness of the situation he finds another excuse for inaction – we need to know how the Federal Government can get greater flexibility to step in and assist the states!
He claims the current crisis had ‘pushed the constitutional authorities for the Commonwealth to act to its very edge.” and thinks this is the first time a Federal Government has ever been in a position where we had to take this action.
Wrong. Between 2005 and 2013 the ADF was deployed approximately 275 times to provide emergency assistance, including:
- Victoria Black Saturday bushfires 2009
- NSW bushfires 2011
- Queensland floods 2011
- Queensland Tropical Cyclone Yasi 2011
And more recently:
- Queensland Tropical Cyclone Debbi 2017
- NT Tropical Cyclone Marcus 2018
2-year-old Senate inquiry has the answers
Involving the ADF in climate change related emergencies was one of the subjects of the comprehensive 2017-18 Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs Defence & Trade inquiry into ‘Implications of Climate Change for Australia’s National Security’. Constitutional issues were not mentioned. Here are two of its 11 recommendations:
…. that the Commonwealth Government consider the need for a dedicated climate security leadership position in the Home Affairs Portfolio to facilitate coordination on climate resilience issues, including disaster risk reduction, infrastructure planning, community health and well-being, and emergency management.
…that the Department of Defence create a dedicated senior leadership position to assist in planning and managing the delivery of domestic and international humanitarian assistance and disaster relief as pressures increase over time.
See here for the full report.
Two years on, the Government has still not responded!
See here for a Canberra Times piece quoting Professor David Letts, ANU, calling for removal of “potential legal uncertainties” in its call-out to Australian Defence Force reservists.