Defence Force praised for efforts in ‘ravaged’ Whitsundays


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Members of the Australian Defence Force drop off relief items after Cyclone Debbie ravaged the Whitsundays region. IMAGE: Twitter
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ARMY personnel providing critical assistance to Whitsunday communities ravaged by ex-Tropical Cyclone Debbie are being praised for their ‘fantastic’ service.

Troops on the ground in Proserpine and Airlie Beach were visited yesterday by Northern Senator Ian Macdonald, Minister for Defence Marise Payne, Minister for Justice Michael Keenan and Defence Force Chief Mark Binskin.

Defence Force members stationed off Airlie Beach on the Navy’s amphibious-capability vessel, the HMAS Choules, were also thanked in person after providing critical assistance to island communities in and around the Whitsunday region.

“The work of getting these communities back on their feet after cyclone Debbie has been a mammoth task,” said Senator Macdonald.

“And it has been a fantastic joint effort by the Defence Forces led by Lt Col Jen Harris, the SES, Queensland State Fire, Ambulance and Police services, and the hard-working teams from local councils, all of whom have praised the smooth running of this coordinated effort.

Special praise was also reserved for the SES crisis management centre in Proserpine, from which the relief effort has been based.

“The crisis management centre has logged 5703 “jobs” – from clearing debris to cutting down trees and tarping roofs – since the cyclone hit. As of today, 3905 of those jobs have been completed,” Macdonald said.

“What we have seen is the outstanding results that can be achieved through effective inter-agency co-ordination.

“But I would make a special mention of the work that has been done by our incredibly skilled and able Defence Force personnel.

“They have come in to a disaster area and set about the task of making sure that members of the community, and the emergency services, can get where they need to go.”

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