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COVID-19 response: What the military are doing and the powers they have in Victoria

More than 1000 Australian Defence Force (ADF) personnel will today be deployed across Victoria after the state government made a request for help to manage the coronavirus response.

The military will officially begin assisting with the response tomorrow.

About 850 defence personnel will provide planning advice and monitoring of hotel quarantine, while another 200 will assist with logistical and medical support at public testing facilities.

Defence Minister Linda Reynolds said the military has been ready to assist since the beginning of the pandemic but couldn’t help until the state government asked for assistance.

“We can’t act until we actually get the request,” she told Neil Mitchell.

“It’s really important to note that the ADF has become very, very good at this. We’ve been helping nationally with the COVID-19 response since February.”

Press PLAY below for Neil Mitchell’s full interview with the Federal Defence Minister.

Ms Reynolds said ADF forces will accompany police and other law enforcement authorities while they complete coronavirus response duties, but Chief Commissoner Graham Ashton said Victoria Police has not been consulted about having ADF personnel accompany them on the job.

The state government has confirmed the ADF will not be going out with police on patrol.

The military will not be armed and will not have law enforcement powers.

ADF personnel will be door-knocking at quarantine hotels to ensure returned travellers are complying with isolation requirements, and may also assist with door-knocking the public, but any problems that arise will be referred to law enforcement.

They will also be assisting at drive-through testing clinics.

“They’re not law enforcement and they’re certainly not security guards,” Ms Reynolds said.

“So what we’re doing is really supporting the Victorian authorities.

“If they identify a problem they then refer it through to the Victorian law enforcement authorities to deal with.”