Minister for Defence Linda Reynolds has confirmed that the 2020 US Marine Corps rotation to Darwin (MRF-D) will now go ahead.
The rotation was originally cancelled in early April due to coronavirus restrictions. At the time, Minister Reynolds indicated that she would consider a delay subject to conditions improving.
Conditions, it would seem, have improved: in a conversation with US Secretary of Defense Mark Esper, Minister Reynolds said that a modified deployment will now go ahead, although a date was not specified.
“After careful consideration, the government has decided that a modified 2020 Marine Rotational Force – Darwin (MRF-D) can proceed later this year, adhering to strict measures in place to protect against COVID-19,” Minister Reynolds said. “The decision was based on Australia’s record to date in managing the impacts from COVID-19, as well as strict adherence by deployed US Marines to the mandatory 14-day quarantine and other requirements.”
Minister Reynolds also noted that special provisions will be made for Indigenous communities in the Territory.
The NT banned non-essential travel to remote communities as a protection against the novel coronavirus a week before the federal government invoked the Biosecurity Act to protect Indigenous communities across the Commonwealth.