Defence updates community on COVID-19 border operations

Published: 17 Jul 2020 4:04pm

The Commander of the NSW COVID-19 Taskforce Brigadier Mick Garraway has visited Wagga to reassure the community there is no risk to the city from the Australian Defence Force’s operations on the Victorian border.

The former Commandant of the First Recruit Training Battalion Kapooka met with Mayor of the City of Wagga Wagga, Councillor Greg Conkey OAM, on Friday, 17 July, to discuss measures being taken by the COVID-19 Taskforce and at RAAF Base Wagga and Kapooka to protect Defence personnel, their families and the Wagga community.

The NSW COVID-19 Taskforce has a small command and logistic element of 20 personnel at RAAF Base Wagga.

Brigadier Garraway stressed that these personnel are not involved in the checkpoints along the Victorian border.

“There is no risk of any of the people posted to Kapooka or RAAF Base Wagga being a threat to the community, no risk from their families or children to people in Wagga,” Brigadier Garraway said.

“We’re not mixing in with staff from RAAF Base Wagga or Kapooka so we’re minimising the risk to the community.

“There has been some negative sentiment and that’s been a little bit unhelpful but I hope that most people in the community would understand that a Defence family that’s not working on the border is not a risk to them.”

The Mayor welcomed Brigadier Garraway’s reassurances, saying the two bases are doing all that’s within their power to mitigate the situation.

“We’re a very proud Defence Force city and the two bases here play a crucial role in the defence of this country and they’ve gone to extraordinary lengths to protect their staff, their recruits, their families and especially also the community of Wagga,” Cr Conkey said.

Brigadier Garraway also stated he would ensure the community was alerted in the “very unlikely” situation of a COVID-19 positive case in Wagga as result of the Taskforce’s border operations.

“I will ring the Mayor, I will ring the police and I will ring the Federal and State Members and then you will be informed,” he said.