KAP candidate says dedicated ‘disaster force’ needed for emergency response

Mar 29, 2022

KAP candidate says dedicated ‘disaster force’ needed for emergency response

Mar 29, 2022

KATTER’S Australian Party candidate for Herbert, Clynton Hawks, says growing regional instability and the increasing incidence of natural disasters are the reasons why the Australian federal government needs to bring back a national disaster and emergency response organisation. 

Mr Hawks said the current arrangement of using the military to supplement the ad-hoc co-ordination of State-based disaster and emergency management agencies is not a sustainable option given the increasing likelihood of Australian Defence Force deployments amid growing regional instability. 

His call follows criticisms of the inadequate response of emergency agencies to flood-stricken residents in south east Queensland and northern New South Wales.[1][1] 

“We need to be prepared for the fact that the ADF may not be able to mobilise sufficient resources to assist when disaster strikes. 

“What the recent floods events have taught us is that despite the heroic and self-less efforts of countless nameless volunteers, it’s still not enough. 

“The trend is for more and more responsibility for disaster response getting put onto the shoulders of fewer and fewer volunteers and agencies.” 

Mr Hawks said States have constitutional responsibility for disaster management, and send a call to the Commonwealth government for assistance when needed, which then triggers the ADF.  

However, Mr Hawks says that a plan needs to be put in place for when the ADF is too stretched to answer the call. 

“A federally-funded ‘disaster force’ consisting of paid volunteers with training, dedicated resources, and organised along similar lines to the Army Reserve, is a solution to Australia’s disaster and emergency management short-falls, now and into the future.” 

“Natural disasters are now quite often disasters of national proportions.   

“With volunteers leaving the SES in droves and some chapters even shutting down in Queensland, who are we going to turn to in our hour of need? 

“We can’t depend on neighbours and hastily organized ‘mud armies’ to jump into the breach.  

“Occupational, Health and Safety regulations can limit what groups of volunteers can do, affecting their capacity to adequately and appropriately respond to many situations.  

“Throwing poorly prepared, trained and resourced Australians into the firing line of disaster and emergency response is a disaster waiting to happen.   

“But the bigger disaster is leaving Australians-in-need in the lurch.” 

Mr Hawks said the new organisation could also resurrect the mandate of the Civil Defence Organisation set up after the World War 2 as the central organising body of national civil defence and resiliency strategy in a time of conflict.   

“In addition to the emergency response role, the new National Disaster Force would bring back the civil defence mandate which would be activated in a time of conflict.   

“In the 1950s, the Australian government brought in the Civil Defence Organisation to undertake planning related to a nuclear attack. 

“Thankfully, the attack never happened, and the CDO eventually merged with other agencies to become the QSES we have today.”