Defence draws up Ebola transport plans

Defence is drawing up plans to transport potential Ebola victims back to Australia from within the Asia-Pacific region.

Australian Defence Force Vice Chief Ray Griggs says the capability doesn't exist yet.

"But by the end of November we are expecting to have an interim short-haul capability for our C-130s and C-17s," he told a Senate estimates committee hearing.

The aircraft will be able to evacuate people within five hours flight of Australia's north.

That's the capacity of the isolation pods in which infected patients would travel.

Vice Admiral Griggs said Defence's plans were being developed in discussion with the government.

"We were aware that we did not have the ability to transport a highly infectious patient," he said.

Some other defence forces and commercial firms have the ability to transport Ebola patients over long distances.

Vice Admiral Griggs said in event of a domestic outbreak, the health department would lead the response, with Defence and the rest of government assisting.

"We haven't done a lot of planning on a domestic outbreak," he said.

"We have been focused on contingency plans around what might happen in the region where we would be expected to provide some sort of support."

Tasmanian Senator Jacqui Lambie asked if Defence had any information on whether Australia's enemies could use Ebola-infected suicide bombers.

Vice Admiral Griggs said there was no evidence to suggest that was likely.

"One of the things we have playing to our advantage is our geographic isolation and the length of time it takes simply to get to Australia," he said.