Turnbull toughens stand on terror, to give ADF greater powers

Vincent Carr
July 17, 2017

Australia's military will be given greater power to act during terror attacks, the prime minister said Monday, following a review of security forces' responses to a spate of local and global incidents.

In what we can only assume was an attempt to look Extremely Tough And Competent, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull just announced new counterterrorism-focused defence force powers against a backdrop of mask-wearing, gun-toting, awkwardly posed defence forces personnel.

The main change in the Defence Act will remove a clause that says the military can only be deployed if the relevant state "is not, or is unlikely to be, able to protect itself against the domestic violence".

It was the first major review of Defence's contribution to domestic counter-terrorism in more than a decade. "We have to stay ahead of them", Turnbull told reporters in Sydney.

"State and territory police forces remain the best first response to terrorist incidents, immediately after an attack starts", Turnbull said.

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

"I want to reassure all Australians that the arrangements we have in place at the moment are exceptionally effective and the evidence for that is the fact we have stopped a dozen terrorist attacks from occurring on our soil", Mr Keenan said.

The government will also make changes to the act to make it easier for the ADF to support the police response, such as the ability to prevent suspected terrorists from leaving the scene of an incident.

Defence will offer soldiers for embedding within police forces to bolster engagement between authorities.

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In May, a coronial inquiry established that police had failed to give a swift response to a 16-hour siege at a central Sydney cafe in December 2014.

Immigration Minister Peter Dutton could be given a greater role in coordinating counter-terrorism policy among changes to national security which include military intervention in terror incidents.

State and federal governments are working together on recommendations from the coroner's report.

Under extraordinary circumstances, the Commonwealth would not need to wait for an invitation and could make the decision to deploy the ADF.

He said the Defence Force must always be used respectfully.

The Government's number one priority is keeping Australians safe.

The Federal Government is giving the Defence Force the power to help state and territory police deal with terrorism attacks, saying it is, "vitally important that defence is able to respond and assist in domestic counter-terrorism efforts".

"Contain and negotiating, which was the approach in the Lindt cafe siege, isn't going to work [in dealing with Islamist terrorists]".

Other reports by BadHub

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