BARNABY Joyce’s idea to use the defence force to aid in drought relief has been shot down by the retired Major-General leading the nation’s response to the drought.
The former deputy prime minister was recently appointed special envoy on drought relief, and has been tasked with investigating the issue without being “constrained by cabinet solidarity”.
“What we can do is identify how much of the military platform is available for that use,” the New England MP said.
“There are areas where we just can’t get that movement of fodder to those areas, and that’s where I think the army comes in to play.
“Also, areas where basically people have given up, where you can get the aerial delivery of fodder, so at least we’ll get something down there.”
However, national drought co-ordinator Major-General Stephen Day hosed down the idea, saying, “It’s just not what we do.”
“It’s important to set expectations right now regarding what is possible,” Major-General Day said.
“Sure, we do logistics around supporting what we do in the field, but it is nowhere near on the scale of what would be required.
“I would nearly go as far as to say that your local council has probably got more water trucks than the army; it’s just not what we do.
“If there is a niche role the Australian Defence Force can play and it makes sense, then I am sure it is something that the Australian government would look at.”
Mr Joyce has also suggested releasing some of the water the federal government has reserved for the environment to grow fodder.