Australian Military To Be Given More Power To Tackle Terror Incidents

Malcolm Turnbull met John Key in Auckland in October 2015 only weeks after becoming PM

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".

In certain circumstances, the military could take charge of responses.

The prime minister unveiled a raft of changes on today, including having special forces provide specialised training to local police officers.

Now defence forces can only be deployed if state police are unable to respond to the level of the threat.

As part of the measures, the military's special forces will train state police teams and soldiers will be placed within law enforcement agencies to improve engagement between authorities.

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

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

Malcolm Turnbull hosted a sleepover for John Key in February 2016 at his Point Piper mansion
Malcolm Turnbull hosted a sleepover for John Key in February 2016 at his Point Piper mansion

Last week, Mr Turnbull spoke to police in London who responded to the London Bridge and Borough Market attacks, where three terrorists killed eight people and injured 50 in a few minutes. Elite special forces would have full legal authority to shoot and kill terrorists.

It was the first major review of Defence's contribution to domestic counter-terrorism in more than a decade. "We must constantly review and update our responses to the threat of terrorism".

He said the proposed measures "will ensure that the ADF is more readily available to respond to terrorism incidents, providing state and territory police with the extra support to call on when they need it".

Shadow Minister for Defence Richard Marles said he supported the changes, but said Mr Turnbull politicised the military by posing with heavy weaponry and commandos for a televised press conference.

Defence Industry Minister Christopher Pyne refused to be drawn on what might have happened if the changes were in place before Sydney's Lindt cafe siege which resulted in the deaths of two hostages.

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

The PM announced a plan to increase cooperation and shared training between State and Territory police and the Australian Defence Forces (ADF), and make it easier for the ADF to be deployed domestically during a terrorist attack.

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