Soldiers are helping to manufacture face masks in a regional Australian town to combat a global shortfall due to the coronavirus outbreak.
Defence Minister Linda Reynolds and Industry Minister Karen Andrews confirmed on Tuesday around a dozen Australian Defence Force personnel had been called out under the Defence Assistance to the Civil Community (DACC) rules to help Med-Con near Shepparton ramp up production of personal protective equipment.
It is the same provision that allowed the military to be called in to help respond to the bushfire crisis.
It comes after the federal government issued a call-to-arms for industry on Monday to scale up production of surgical face masks, sanitiser, goggles and gowns amid a worldwide shortage.
The team of engineering maintenance specialists from the Army Logistic Training Centre and the Joint Logistics Unit will plug a short-term gap in labour, while the Victorian manufacturer recruits and trains extra staff.
"These skilled soldiers are with the company's existing staff on production, maintenance and warehousing tasks," Senator Reynolds said.
"This is an example of the kind of exceptional circumstances which the DACC rules are designed to cover."
The Department of Industry, Science, Energy and Resources issued a request for information on Monday in order to map domestic production capability of medical personal protective equipment.
Ms Andrews said Australian manufacturers have already been reaching out with offers to help.
"We are casting the net as widely as we can, asking manufacturers if they have the ability to diversify the work they do," she said.
"I'm confident our Aussie ingenuity will guide us through this difficult time."
Meanwhile Health Minister Greg Hunt said 230,000 new P2 masks arrived in Australia on Tuesday and would be shared with states and pathology providers.
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