'Like North Korea': Sydneysiders react to Army Covid enforcers

·3-min read

Sydney has been sensationally compared to a "militarised political regime” such as "North Korea", as Australian Defence Force troops hit the streets to help police crack down on Covid-19 compliance.

Around 300 Australian Defence Force personnel were deployed across Sydney’s west and south west at the start of the week, helping police ensure close contacts of confirmed cases are following the rules and are isolating at home.

The military rollout comes as authorities grapple to contain Sydney’s growing Delta outbreak, which surged by 262 cases on Thursday — the state's worst day of the coronavirus pandemic

NSW Police and ADF stand in front of a home in western Sydney conducting COVID compliance checks in western Sydney. Source: NSW Police
300 ADF troops are helping to reinforce the efforts of police, patrolling and door-knocking in western Sydney. Source: NSW Police

Fury over deployment of troops in western Sydney

Politicians from all levels of government have slammed the highly-visible ADF presence in Sydney's west. 

NSW Greens Senator Mehreen Faruqi lashed out on social media, criticising “the “militarisation of public health” in Australia.

“News that there will be soldiers on the ground in western Sydney, going door to door, has stirred up all my terrifying memories of growing up mostly under a militarised political regime in Pakistan,” she posted to Twitter.

“The militarisation of public health in Australia, in communities that are already going through these difficult lockdowns and the anxiety and stress of Covid-19 is just plain bastardry.”

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Meanwhile, Cumberland Mayor Steve Christou condemned the deployment of troops as an "extreme measure." 

“Our people are one of the most poorest demographics in NSW. They’ve suffered lockdown, mounted horseback police, and if that wasn’t enough then they get the army rolling in as of tomorrow," he told Sky News last week. 

"Gladys has lost all control whilst the opposition remains silent tucked away in their lounge rooms on full pay. It’s no way to treat a vulnerable community. The army is there to defend its people not be used against it."

Federal Labor MP for the Western Sydney seat of Watson Tony Burke said people are “angry with the state Government” while speaking in Parliament yesterday from Bankstown via videolink.

“We have a lot of police here. We have a lot of soldiers. We need more vaccines,” he posted.

A NSW Police officer and ADF troop wear PPE gear while conducting COVID compliance checks in western Sydney. Source: NSW Police
The new highly-visible ADF presence in Sydney's west has been slammed as a ‘militarised political regime." Source: NSW Police

Mixed reaction online as troops hit the streets 

Social media has been flooded with comments about the military rollout, with one person commenting on the NSW Incidents Alerts Facebook page, “It's a dangerous downward spiral when a nation turns it's military against it's own people".

Another posted “We are becoming like North Korea. This is becoming a joke.”

“Don’t think that deploying defence force personnel in areas which have people who may have escaped from war torn countries, or countries who experienced civil war is well thought out at all. It will trigger PTSD in a very large population of people,” warned another social media user.

NSW Police and ADF conducting COVID compliance checks in western Sydney. Source: NSW Police
The highly-visible defence presence comes after fines for not wearing a mask increased from $200 to $500. Source: NSW Police

Others said: “Welcome to the Police State”, “I’m officially disgusted.” and “sad it had to come to this.”

However, some have welcomed the deployment of troops into western Sydney.

“Great decision and probably overdue,” commented one person.

Another said: “This is what happens when health orders aren't respected.”

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