Australia weighs creating disaster relief force as floods hit south-east

Australia is passionately thinking about setting up a disaster relief force to support and relieve a military overstretched by normal natural disasters, Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said on Jan 9, as towns in the nation’s south-east were evacuated because of flooding. The floods happened after Australia won over some of its worst bush fires over the “Black Summer” of 2019 and 2020, followed by a devastating bout of flooding on the east coast in 2022. Around half the Australian Defence Force’s 62,000 troops were being a part in disaster relief over that period, a commitment which undermined its ability to defend the nation, the Department of Defence conveyed in 2023.

Mr Albanese said the government was thinking about creating a standing reserve body, although the nation had to be flexible and use whatever assets it had on hand during disasters. “Tragically, in this exquisite nation of ours, natural disasters are becoming more frequent and more intense,” he told ABC Radio, ahead of a visit to Queensland state, which was hit by a cyclone just before Christmas. “We were told that would affect climate change, and unluckily we are viewing that play out.” Further south in Victoria, the state emergency service on Jan 9 warned residents of Rochester, roughly 150km north of Melbourne, it was too late to evacuate from rising flood waters as heavy storms caused flooding in 13 rivers in the state.