Australia seeks to expand role of military in domestic terror threats

17 July, 2017, 20:50 | Author: Chad Mckenzie
  • AAP Image  Brendan Esposito                       Special Operations Command soldiers are seen posing at Holsworthy Barracks in Sydney

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.

While people took to Twitter to mock the PM's delivery, the proposed laws potentially deliver sweeping new military powers that should be taken pretty seriously.

The military will also be allowed on the streets to support the wider police response, including blocking potential suspects from leaving the scene.

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

Special Forces Soldiers will be training state and territory police forces to equip them with more skills to do so.

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However, since then, the country has witnessed several terrorist attacks, the worst among them was a 17-hour long siege in a cafe in Sydney in December 2014 that resulted in the death of three people. "We must constantly review and update our responses to the threat of terrorism".

SOLDIERS may be placed within police forces to help with Australian Defence Force liaison.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and Defence Minister Marise Payne will announce the changes on Monday.

Currently, governments have to wait until they know their own capability or capacity to respond has been exceeded before they can ask for assistance.

The government said in a statement that state and territory police forces remained the best first response, but the military could offer additional support to enhance their capabilities.

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"We need to make sure that the "call out" powers are appropriate for the current circumstances".

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

The proposed changes need parliament's approval.

"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.

Turnbull had been hinting for months of plans to strengthen Australia's counter-terrorism regime following the coronial report into the Lindt cafe siege.

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"In the current threat environment, it's most likely that a terrorist attack will use simple methodologies, a knife, a gun, a vehicle and the attack itself could be over in minutes", Turnbull said.


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