How military planes were nearly brought in to SPY on locked-down Australians – here’s why the plan was canned at the last minute
- The ADF blocked a plan to use military aircrafts to spy on locked down Victorians
- Plan to use drones to monitor the public for COVID breaches was made in April
- Police wished to use drones to be able to easily identify illegal public gatherings
- Premier Daniel Andrews said he did not know details about the proposed plan
- The ADF believed the drone program would generate anxiety in the community
A plan to spy on Victorians using military aircrafts to find residents breaching coronavirus lockdown rules was nearly implemented by authorities.
Drones were to monitor the public for COVID-19 breaches under a plan made by Emergency Management Victoria in April in conjunction with Victoria Police.
Authorities asked the Australian Defence Force to be able to use military aerial vision to locate illegal public gatherings and fine the perpetrators.
High-tech machinery was to be used including the Shadow 200 unmanned aerial vehicle, which was brought in by the ADF for target acquisition in Afghanistan.
The Shadow 200 can travel at speeds of 200km/h and beam live footage from an altitude of 2.4km.
The ADF blocked a plan to use military aircrafts such as the Shadow 200 (pictured) to spy on locked down Victorians during the coronavirus pandemic
The Herald Sun reported the plan was rejected by the ADF as it believed the program would generate anxiety in the community.
Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews on Wednesday said he did not know details about the proposed plan, but revealed it was ‘about trying to monitor movement in one way or another, or whether crowds were gathering as they shouldn’t have done’.
Victoria Police Deputy Commissioner Rick Nugent said police were ‘just looking for some support’ with the drone proposal.
‘Our request was to increase that capacity around drones. We’ve got some of our own, we were just looking for some support there,’ he said.
Commander of the Defence COVID-19 task force Lieutenant General John Frewen said the proposal was not ‘the right thing for us to be supporting at the time’.
A statement from Emergency Management Victoria said the plan was for ‘additional resourcing options which would supplement Victoria’s existing remote piloted aerial systems capability’.
Department of Health and Human Services authorities have been conscious of encouraging a positive public health response through the pandemic.
The ADF blocked the program as they believed the drone program would generate anxiety in the community. Pictured: a couple wearing face masks and sunglasses walk under an umbrella in Melbourne amid stage four coronavirus restrictions on Tuesday