Negative drug tests recorded for personnel who packed Jack Fitzgibbon parachute before deadly jump

<span>Lance Corporal Jack Fitzgibbon died after a parachute incident during training at RAAF base in Richmond, New South Wales.</span><span>Photograph: Supplied/Supplied by Department of Defence</span>
Lance Corporal Jack Fitzgibbon died after a parachute incident during training at RAAF base in Richmond, New South Wales.Photograph: Supplied/Supplied by Department of Defence

All defence personnel involved in packing and checking Lance Corporal Jack Fitzgibbon’s parachute before his tragic death had tested negative for prohibited substances, the Australian defence force says.

On Sunday the ABC reported six unidentified soldiers serving at the Royal Australian Air Force base in Richmond had “failed comprehensive drug screening in mid-February and early March” and were facing potential expulsion from the ADF.

Fitzgibbon, the son of former Labor defence minister Joel Fitzgibbon, died in a parachuting accident during routine training in March.

Related: Soldier Jack Fitzgibbon dies after parachute incident during training at RAAF base in Richmond

A defence spokesperson said defence carried out random drug testing on an ongoing basis and soldiers involved in the packing of Fitzgibbon’s chute had tested negative.

Investigations into Fitzgibbon’s death were continuing.

“The safety of our personnel is paramount and the death of any member, whether in training or in defence of Australia, is deeply felt across the ADF,” a spokesperson said.

Defence would not comment on any other investigations.

The prime minister, Anthony Albanese, a close friend of Joel Fitzgibbon, said on Sunday his thoughts were with Jack’s family.

“Of course, the investigation is ongoing, so I can’t talk in any further detail about the specifics, but my heart goes out to Joel and Diane, Jack’s parents, and that whole family … it was an enormous tragedy,” he said.

“I visited the ADF personnel there in Richmond in the days after the tragedy, and my heart goes out to them at this time. This will be a difficult day for them, on top of the difficult days and weeks that they’ve gone through.”

Albanese said he was concerned by the reports of positive drug tests but would leave the investigations in the hand of the ADF.

“The ADF have clearly undertaken appropriate investigations,” he said.

“It’s important that they be allowed to conduct these processes through to conclusion.”

Fitzgibbon, 33, died in hospital after the parachuting accident on 7 March. He was described as “someone who could be counted on” by Albanese, who had known him growing up, during a condolence motion held for the lance corporal in parliament.

“From the day he enlisted in 2014 Jack was proudly part of something bigger than himself,” Albanese said.

“He was numbered among the extraordinary men and women who volunteer to serve in the Australian defence force and do our nation proud every single day. This accident that took Jack away from all who loved him is a harsh reminder that there are no easy days for those who defend our nation. What they do is crucial to everything we hold dear as a nation and as a people.”