Australian Military To Be Given More Power To Tackle Terror Incidents

Frederick Owens
July 17, 2017

Elite special forces would have full legal authority to shoot and kill terrorists.

Mr Turnbull emphasised the police would remain the first to deal with terrorism incidents and pointed out that, even in Sydney where the special forces troops are based at the Holsworthy barracks, it could take hours for them to reach a terrorist incident and it would be many hours to reach other cities in Australia.

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

Special Forces soldiers would also provide specialised training to state and territory police, as well as the placement of officers inside law enforcement agencies to "assist with liaison and engagement".

It was the first major review of Defence's contribution to domestic counter-terrorism in more than a decade.

The new powers come as part of the fallout from the 2014 Lindt Cafe siege in Sydney's Martin Place. "We must constantly review and update our responses to the threat of terrorism".

According to The Guardian, changes unveiled by the Turnbull government will make it easier for ADF personnel to work with federal and state governments and their police forces in the event of a domestic terrorist attack.

Mr Turnbull made the announcement at Holsworthy Barracks in Sydney, where he inspected the guns and military equipment carried by commandos who were heavily armed and covered by balaclavas and sunglasses.

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The Australian Defence Force has two tactical assault groups - one in Sydney and one in Perth - on standby to rapidly deploy to a terrorist attack.

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

A series of worldwide security incidents, in particular the central Sydney cafe siege in December 2014 in which two hostages were killed, prompted the measures, said Greene.

State governments will be able to call on help from the Australian Defence Force immediately under changes to the Defence Act.

He said the Defence Force must always be used respectfully.

Former SAS commander-turned federal MP Andrew Hastie has previously said the Sydney siege response demonstrated state police were "not up to the task" of dealing with the unique nature of Islamist terrorism.

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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