Published: Mon, July 17, 2017
Sci-tech | By Jackie Newman

Australia to boost army powers in response to potential terror attacks

Australia to boost army powers in response to potential terror attacks

Other changes will see army commandos train select state and territory police teams, while Defence will also offer to permanently embed officers within state law enforcement agencies to act as liaisons and advisers.

Turnbull also mentioned implementing "full legal protections to ensure that police are empowered to use lethal force where the public is at risk". The controversial response of police forces to the Lindt Cafe hostage crisis in 2014 has also been looked at as a demonstration of an existing need to provide reinforcements for police forces.

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

"Together, these measures will improve the nation's ability to respond to terrorism as well as improve the effectiveness of Defence's contribution to domestic counterterrorism arrangements", he said. "We have to stay ahead of them", Turnbull told reporters at the Holsworthy Barracks in Sydney's southwest.

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

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

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

"They can sniff it from a mile away and they will judge people accordingly and it is for all of us in this space to use our judgement appropriately to make sure that we are doing this in a way which is respectful to the ADF because I can assure you, the Australian people will absolutely judge our actions as indeed they should".

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

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.

Exactly what defence forces will be empowered to do under the new laws is unclear, though at one point Turnbull gestured to the heavily armed forces behind him as an example of what the ADF can offer, potentially flagging a substantial expansion of domestic military presence and powers.

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

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