POLITICS

Defence To Be Given Greater Leeway To Step Into Terrorist Incidents

The PM is responding to the deadly 2014 Lindt Cafe siege in Sydney.

17/07/2017 12:31 AM AEST | Updated 17/07/2017 12:31 AM AEST
Joosep Martinson via Getty Images
Malcolm Turnbull: "We cannot afford to take a ‘set and forget’ mentality on national security."

CANBERRA -- A sweeping overhaul of the way the Australian Defence Force is deployed and assists local law enforcement at terrorist incidents in Australia is to be announced by Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull on Monday in the Federal Government's response to the deadly 2014 Lindt Cafe siege in Sydney.

After calling for the overhaul along with 45 other recommendations of the Coroners inquest into the siege, Turnbull will announce legislative changes to make it easier for the Australian Defence Force (ADF) to be called out to terrorist incidents.

Three people died in the cafe in December 2014, including two hostages - Tori Johnson and Katrina Dawson - and the mentally-ill self-declared Islamic State terrorist Man Horan Monis.

Getty Images
Flowers are left at Martin Place on December 16, 2014.

"The Government's number one priority is keeping Australians safe," Turnbull is expected to say Monday.

"We cannot afford to take a 'set and forget' mentality on national security. We must constantly review and update our responses to the threat of terrorism."

Proposed Defence changes

  • Specialised training from Special Forces for select state and territory law enforcement teams;
  • Defence officers to assist with liaison and engagement with state and territory agencies;
  • Remove some legal constraints in the provisions to "call out" the ADF to assist states and territories;
  • Make it easier for Defence to support police, such as the "ability to prevent suspected terrorists from leaving the scene of an incident."

The Coroner's work is being addressed as part of a suite of measures which are also being announced by Defence Minister Marise Payne at Sydney's Holsworthy Barracks later Monday morning.

It's the first time the ADF's contribution to domestic counter-terrorism has been reviewed since 2005.

The 18-month inquest dealt with speculation and commentary that Defence Special Forces should have been called in to end the 17-hour siege, but NSW Coroner Michael Barnes rejected the need for military intervention in this case, largely because the NSW Police Force "considered it had the capacity to respond effectively to Monis' actions and did not advise the NSW government otherwise".

Fairfax Media via Getty Images
Police secure the area near Lindt Cafe in Martin Place.

Regardless, the NSW Coroner recommended better guidance for the use of Defence Force personnel at terror events and a review of existing arrangements for information sharing between federal, state and territory agencies.

Under the plan to be revealed Monday, the ADF will also offer specialised training from Special Forces for select state and territory law enforcement teams as well as offering officers for liaison and engagement within law enforcement agencies.

It's expected this will help the ADF's readiness should it be called to an incident.

Turnbull will announce the government intends to strengthen Part IIIAAA of the Defence Act to remove some constraints in the provisions to "call out" the ADF to assist states and territories.

The ADF will still be supporting states and territories in their role as the first responders to a domestic terrorist incident.

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