A group of Australian soldiers in north Queensland have been caught congregating at a house party on Easter Sunday in breach of coronavirus regulations.
- The Defence Department said it would “cooperate fully” with Queensland police
- It said the soldiers would also be subject to internal disciplinary action
- Police in Townsville said they were called out to three house parties over the Easter weekend
Queensland police issued 24 fines of more than $1,300 each to people found flouting social-distancing restrictions over the Easter weekend.
The Defence Department declined to say how many soldiers were at the party in suburban Townsville, but said it would “cooperate fully” with Queensland police.
“Defence takes any reports of personnel not complying with COVID-19 guidelines seriously,” a department spokesperson told the ABC.
The soldiers will be subject to internal disciplinary action, which can involve being demoted or docked pay.
“Defence personnel involved will be subject to disciplinary investigation under the Defence Force Discipline Act, which may include administrative or disciplinary action,” the spokesperson said.
Police in Townsville said they were called out to three house parties over the Easter weekend.
Acting Chief Superintendent Glen Pointing said some of the people caught at the parties were “belligerent” towards police, but he did not say whether the soldiers were among those people.
“That’s disappointing, particularly when they’re given a warning and they don’t heed that warning, and police are called back to same address repeatedly,” he said.
Townsville is home to the Army’s 3rd combat Brigade. About 4,000 soldiers are based at the city’s Lavarack Barracks.
Between one and two thirds of the military workforce is working from home or in isolation at the barracks due to coronavirus restrictions.
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Queensland now accounts for the largest number of Australian Defence Force (ADF) personnel assisting with state and federal government responses to the coronavirus crisis.
Nearly 600 troops are supporting police throughout the state, with 100 helping to protect remote Indigenous communities.
Groups of soldiers are also helping police enforce border control measures, and conduct self-isolation compliance checks and contact tracing.
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