Published: Mon, July 17, 2017
World | By Paul Elliott

Australia to boost army powers in response to potential terror attacks

Australia to boost army powers in response to potential terror attacks

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.

Turnbull held his Monday morning defence themed presser at Sydney's Holsworthy Barracks complete with the Chief of the Defence Force Air Chief Marshal Mark Binskin and six extremely well-armed, masked special forces soldiers strategically placed in the background.

"Our enemies are agile and innovative".

"As public officials in this space, we must always ensure we never politicise the ADF", he told reporters in Melbourne.

On Monday, Malcolm Turnbull announced a set of proposed changes to Australia's security laws, which pave the way for an easier army deployment to respond to "terrorist incident".

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

He said the changes to the domestic counter-terrorism arrangements were made "to stay ahead of the evolving threat of terrorism" and to "ensure Australia has a coordinated and integrated response".

Previously, the military could only be called upon if police concluded they could no longer deal with an incident.

"There would only be limited circumstances in which the niche military capabilities that we have would be required", he said.

Although police were absolved of blame during a 2014 Sydney cafe seige, in which two hostages and the gunman were killed, an inquest found authorities had underestimated the threat of the hostage taker and recommended a review of several procedures.

Defence Industry Minister Christopher Pyne earlier refused to be drawn on what might have happened had the changes been in place before then.

But he said if there was a protracted incident like the Lindt Cafe siege, the new rules would mean soldiers could be called in.

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

Labor is expected to support the new measures. It's also led to criticism about the appropriateness of using members of the defence forces as human props.

The measures - including specialised training by special forces for law enforcement teams - will provide more Commonwealth support to state police forces, which are still acknowledged as the appropriate "first responders".

Australia's military will be more readily deployed to respond to domestic "terrorist incidents" under proposed changes to laws by the government.

THE legal process to "call out" the ADF streamlined.

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