Hundreds of defence troops to descend on Sydney as Covid crisis escalates

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Defence personnel have been deployed to NSW.Picture: NCA NewsWire / David GeraghtySource:News Corp Australia

About 300 defence personnel are being sent to Covid-riddled Sydney to help crack down on those breaching tough lockdown measures.

The city is struggling to contain the outbreak with infections ballooning to 239 on Thursday, the worst day since the pandemic began.

The Australian Defence Force will work alongside NSW Police to enforce restrictions in Sydney following a formal request from the state’s police commissioner.

Defence Minister Peter Dutton on Thursday night confirmed up to 300 defence personnel would start working from August 2.

See all newsletters, July 29, 2021

Defence Minister Peter Dutton confirmed 300 troops would be sent to Sydney. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Martin OllmanSource:News Corp Australia

“I hope it is a message of reassurance that this resource will help us multiply out the capability of the NSW Police Force and supplement the work that they do,” he said on breakfast television.

But Today show host Karl Stefanovic probed the Defence Minister on Friday morning, asking how authorities could expect to strike the “delicate” balance between reassurance and resistance.

“Are you expecting them to be there for long?” he asked.

“We don’t know the answer to that question yet, Karl,” Mr Dutton quipped.

“Obviously, we want the lockdown to finish as quickly as possible and people to get back to their normal lives at some stage.”

Mr Dutton said the ADF would not have the same powers as police and were simply there to provide assistance and support.

“They’ve done it in Victoria and they’ve done it elsewhere around the country,” he said.

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See all newsletters, July 29, 2021

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian announced 239 new cases on Thursday. Picture: NCA NewsWire/Bianca De MarchiSource:News Corp Australia

“Given the level of training and the expertise ADF personnel bring, it should be a message of reassurance and people should look at it that way.”

The move came after NSW Police Commissioner Mick Fuller earlier revealed he had made a formal request for help after the state recorded an alarming spike in cases.

Mr Fuller issued a statement that said NSW Police would “significantly” expand its compliance operation “over the coming days” to clamp down on any rule breaking as Sydney enters another month of strict stay-at-home rules.

The NSW government had previously declined an offer made in early July for defence personnel to help tackle Sydney’s coronavirus outbreak.

Mr Dutton said the defence personnel would be deployed from Friday and would have training during the weekend.

But a Twitter user shared footage on Thursday evening of what they believed to be ADF helicopters landing in a park in Guildford.

Apparently this is ADF landing in Guildford Park to commence operations… shared by a friend 🤔🥸

Meanwhile fam/friends in China WeChatting – is Sydney OK – we’re worried for you – it seems like it’s a war-zone there & your Gov is very oppressive – pls stay safe 🤷🏽‍♂️🤷🏽‍♂️🤷🏽‍♂️ pic.twitter.com/lAEIiCKpGb

— Just Think Property (@justthink1) July 29, 2021

The city’s lockdown has been extended until at least August 28, and health officials are struggling to contain the spread of the Delta variant behind the outbreak.

ADF troops have assisted the Victorian government with managing its revamped hotel quarantine system since the state resumed taking international arrivals last December.

Whether the Daniel Andrews government had rejected an offer of ADF support for running its initial botched quarantine program became a major point of contention during an inquiry into the way it was run.

Earlier this month, the defence force refuted claims it rejected a direct plea for help from Victoria Police to keep the Sydney outbreak from spreading into the southern state.

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