Turnbull toughens stand on terror, to give ADF greater powers

Turnbull toughens stand on terror, to give ADF greater powers

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 military will be given sweeping powers to deploy forces and even take charge during terrorist attacks.

"It is essential that Australia evolves its responses and countermeasures in response to the changing threat", he 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.

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

Defence will offer State and Territory Governments specialised training from Special Forces for select law enforcement teams.

The measures came months after the prime minister ordered a review of terror response, after it was concluded that police were ill-equipped and too slow in responding to the Lindt cafe siege in Sydney in 2014. "We must constantly review and update our responses to the threat of terrorism".

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




Special Operations Command soldiers stand in the background while PM, Malcolm Turnbull announces changes to national security in live conference.

Citing recent attacks in London, he insisted police would remain the first responders to any incident but it was time to increase co-operation with the military.

Under current laws, domestic police can only call on the defence force if it is believed that police capability or capacity to respond has been exceeded.

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

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

The changes, which need to pass Parliament, will be discussed at the next Council of Australian Governments meeting.

Keenan said the overhaul of Australia's defence act isn't an indictment of state police but was about ensuring every resource was available in a terrorist attack.

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

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