CANBERRA - Singapore has offered to deploy its military assets based in Australia to help with flood relief efforts in the states of New South Wales and Victoria.
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong made the offer on Tuesday during an annual meeting with his Australian counterpart Anthony Albanese in Canberra.
In a press conference after the meeting, PM Lee said Singapore appreciated Australia’s consistent and generous support for the Singapore Armed Forces training there, which has fully resumed after disruptions due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
“We are very happy that our units are present here and are able to be of assistance to the Australian government in times of need, for example, during natural disasters and floods,” he said.
“I mentioned to the Prime Minister just now that Singapore is ready to provide assistance to support the Australian Defence Forces’ flood relief efforts for the floods in New South Wales and Victoria,” PM Lee added, noting that Singapore officials will be in touch to work out how best to help.
Since last week, thousands of people have been evacuated following floods across Victoria, Tasmania and New South Wales. This came after Australia’s south-east region was hit last week by more than a month’s worth of average rainfall.
On Tuesday, PM Albanese said Singapore’s military training in Australia brings benefits, such as jobs, to the local community in central Queensland.
“But we’ve also seen from Prime Minister Lee today, who raised the issue with me - off his own bat as we say in Australia - of how can our helicopters and our defence force infrastructure here help Australia during the floods,” Mr Albanese added.
“That’s what friends do. They see a friend going through a difficult time and they ask, how can we help? And Australia and Singapore are great friends, the friendship has been added to today.”
The Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF), which has a detachment based in Oakey, Queensland, had previously deployed its aircraft to help with humanitarian and disaster relief efforts.
In March, two CH-47F Chinook helicopters transported personnel and emergency supplies in support of the Australian Defence Force’s flood relief efforts in Queensland and New South Wales.
The RSAF had also, in 2020, assisted with bush fire relief efforts by delivering supplies and transporting emergency service personnel.
In a joint statement after the annual meeting, both prime ministers said they welcomed the depth of the countries’ longstanding defence and security cooperation, and noted the success of the signature bilateral exercise, Exercise Trident, which took place in September.
They also discussed advancing security cooperation, including on counter-terrorism, cyber security and border security, while acknowledging the importance of countering foreign interference.