Australia’s hard borders will open to 200 Air Force personnel from Singapore later this month, in what the Australian Defence Minister says will be a boost to the stagnant NT economy.
The troop will land in the Darwin and head straight into quarantine for 14 days at a specially prepared hotel accommodation, Defence Minister Linda Reynolds said.
Australia’s borders are closed to tourists and it remains unclear when easing of travel restrictions will begin.
COVID-19 concerns will not get in the way of flying training for the Republic of Singapore Air Force Fighter Detachment, who will spend two months practicing at Delamere Air Weapons Range and Bradshaw Field Training Area.
As of Wednesday, Singapore’s Ministry of Health reported 75 new cases of COVID-19, linked to travellers entering the country and dormitories, bringing the national total to 57,166.
Minister for Defence, Senator Linda Reynolds said the deployment demonstrates Australia’s close defence partnership with Singapore.
“After careful planning and preparations undertaken by both Australia and Singapore to minimise any potential COVID-19 risks to the Northern Territory, I am pleased we will be able to welcome the detachment from Singapore,” Minister Reynolds said.
“The arrival of the RSAF’s Fighter Detachment to conduct training in the Northern Territory underlines the strength of the Australia-Singapore partnership and our shared commitment to regional security.
“Singapore’s military training in Australia is an important element of our Comprehensive Strategic Partnership.
“It supports Singapore’s ability to generate a force that provides strategic weight and supports stability in our region.”
The small contingent is expected to spend about two months in the Territory, where it is hoped they will provide a small boost to the economy, Minister Reynolds said.
“The training exercises will see RSAF personnel frequenting businesses in the local community, providing welcome economic opportunities for the Top End.”
Strict measures are in place to reduce the risk of spreading COVID-19, but the troops will not be quarantining at the Howard Springs facility where all other visitors from hotspots must spend 14 days.
Each member of the RSAF will undergo seven days self-isolation in Singapore and undertake a COVID-19 test 48 hours prior to arrival in Australia, Minister Reynolds said.
“They will then undertake a further 14 days quarantine at specially prepared hotel accommodation in the Darwin Area that will be secured and managed by the Australian Defence Force,” she said.
“All RSAF personnel will be re-tested at the conclusion of the quarantine period.
“These measures are consistent with the successful arrangements in place in support of the US Marine Rotation Force in Darwin.
“This detachment has been able to proceed, with all the necessary protections related to COVID-19, because of the excellent cooperation between the Singapore Armed Forces, the Australian Government and the Northern Territory Government.”