Defence support to domestic Counter-Terrorism arrangements

Cheryl Sanders
July 17, 2017

According to new measures announced on Monday by Malcolm Turnbull, Australia's prime minister, state and territory governments would be able to call for military help any time a "terror incident" is declared.

"What I am doing is taking a lot of the red tape and the gum out of the works to enable the cooperation between the police and the ADF (Australian Defence Forces) and particularly the specialists so they can work together more seamlessly", he added.

"We have to stay ahead of the threat of terrorism", Mr Turnbull said.

Mr Turnbull said state and territory police remain the best first responders "immediately after an attack starts". "But Defence can offer more support to states and territories to enhance their capabilities and increase their understanding of Defence's unique capabilities to ensure a comprehensive response to potential terrorist attacks".

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull made the announcement in Holsworthy on Monday, explaining Special Forces soldiers will be involved in training law enforcement officers.

That will include an offer of training from ADF special forces units such as the SAS, which is based in Swanbourne.

In practice, this means that it will be easier to deploy the Defence Forces in response to domestic terror incidents.

The Defence Act will be strengthened to remove some constraints governing the "call-out" of the ADF in terrorist situations.

Previously, the military were "called out" for assistance by a state only if local police capabilities were exceeded during an incident.

NEW powers to prevent suspected terrorists from leaving the scene of an incident.

Last week, Mr Turnbull spoke to police in London who responded to the London Bridge and Borough Market attacks, where three terrorists killed eight people and injured 50 in a few minutes.

Mr Turnbull told The West Australian details of the rules would be thrashed out with States and Territories at Council of Australian Governments meetings, and through the Australia-New Zealand counterterrorism committee.

We can not afford to take a "set and forget" mentality on national security.

"The terrorism response we have at the moment is good, as are the links between state and federal police and intelligence organisations".

The government-proposed changes to national security laws are part of a review into counter-terrorism.

It is essential that Australia evolves its responses and counter-measures in response to the changing threat.

"But defence must be able to contribute effectively to domestic counter-terrorism efforts, in addition to its offshore counter-terrorism missions and regional capacity-building activities".

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