Jacqui Lambie says 70,000 ADF personnel should be put to ‘goddamn use’ amid Covid-19 surge
Jacqui Lambie has issued a plea to the federal government to use the country’s 70,000 defence force personnel to plug critical holes in the nation’s healthcare system.
A surge in hospitalisations from Omicron’s rapid spread has put hospitals under immense strain in multiple states.
Twenty Australian Defence Force personnel will be deployed to Victoria from Thursday to assist with driving ambulances to free up paramedics as the healthcare system struggles to cope.
A further six defence members will be used in a planning team to support Victorian authorities.
Personnel will also assist Victorian authorities by taking 000 calls.
Senator Lambie said governments should use the ADF as much as possible.
“Whether it is in a war – conventional or against Omicron or anything else – I don’t understand why you have a defence force sitting there while you aren’t doing what you need to do, and get them on the ground right now,” she told Today.
Senator Lambie, who is a former soldier, said she couldn’t understand why the defence force wasn’t being used more.
Victoria declared a code brown for Melbourne’s metropolitan hospitals and some regional facilities.
That means some staff will have annual leave cancelled and elective surgeries are being postponed to free up workforce for an anticipated Covid-19 surge.
Other states are expected to follow Victoria.
Senator Lambie said ADF members would follow any instructions to help in the crisis.
“Somebody needs to get in and help the first responders out – two years in they are absolutely on their last legs,” she said.
“I get really angry for someone that is former military, that we are trained to do anything you want. If you want us in those goddamn hospitals, get us in those goddamn hospitals.
“This is what we love. Anything that we can do for Australians, whether it is on home soil or overseas soil. Bring us in mate, bring us in.”
Health Minister Greg Hunt has announced private health workers will be used in the public system.
“The private hospitals agreement will see up to 57,000 nurses and over 100,000 staff made available to Omicron affected areas around the country,” Mr Hunt said earlier this week.
“That will mean there will be assistance available where necessary.”
Originally published as Jacqui Lambie says 70,000 ADF personnel should be put to ‘goddamn use’ amid Covid-19 surge
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