Disaster Response Plan activated as flooding threatens critical road freight

Australians can be assured that actions are being taken to maintain critical supplies and groceries to Darwin, Western Australia and Coober Pedy in South Australia after severe flooding caused damage to infrastructure in South Australia.

Minister for Emergency Management Senator the Hon Bridget McKenzie said the Australian Government was standing at the ready to provide support to South Australia, Western Australia and the Northern Territory following road and rail closures due to flood damage.

The National Coordination Mechanism (NCM) through Emergency Management Australia within Department of Home Affairs, has been engaging directly with federal departments, state and territory governments, industry, and other related peak bodies to discuss options to keep essential supplies moving and repair damaged infrastructure as soon as possible.

“The National Coordination Mechanism has been actively working with the states and territories, supermarkets, rail owners and operators, road freight operators to respond to disruptions in the supply chain situation caused by the severe weather,” said McKenzie.

“In anticipation of requests for Australian Government non-financial assistance, the Director General of Emergency Management Australia (EMA) has activated the Australian Government Disaster Response Plan.

“Our first concern is for the safety and needs of those directly affected and we know that through working together we can keep the wheels turning and restore supply chains across the country.

McKenzie said the community had a role to play in the response too, by noting that no one needed to hoard goods if they only bought what they needed.

“This unnecessarily spikes demand and then directly impacts supply,” she said.

The Member for Grey Rowan Ramsey thanked Minister McKenzie for her rapid response in committing the Commonwealth to assisting in this vital supply issue.

“It is unclear at this stage when the Stuart Highway will re-open and the concerns expressed by the Coober Pedy community and the people who rely on it as a supply line are understandable,” said Ramsey.

“Simply put, we need to find an immediate way to get goods through.

“The declaration by the State Government of a flood emergency is welcome and gives the police primary responsibility for ensuring supply. That we are all working together to deal with the issues will be of some comfort to those who are worst affected by the flood waters.

Ramsey said the declaration of a flood emergency by the State Government was a necessary step as it provided police with primary responsibility for ensuring supply.

As the weather events continue to cause closures to key road routes between South Australia and the Northern Territory, the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator (NHVR) has issued a Class 2 Supplementary Access Northern Territory Assistance Notice.

This Notice will allow increased freight capacity on alternative road networks to ensure supply of food and other essential goods is delivered.

The National Coordination Mechanism will continue to work closely with South Australia and other jurisdictions to maintain unity of effort to stabilise the situation.

The Australian Government will continue to monitor the weather situation across central and eastern Australia through the National Situation Room and stands ready to provide assistance to states and territories.

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