POLITICS

Turnbull Government Removes Red Tape To Bring Defence Onto Frontline Of Domestic Terror

'We will have a closer collaboration with the police. It is already close. We want to make it closer.'

17/07/2017 1:03 PM AEST | Updated 17/07/2017 1:22 PM AEST
Fairfax

CANBERRA -- It would be a rare and potent use of the military to suppress domestic terrorist events, and according to Malcolm Turnbull, not a decision for people in a hurry.

The Prime Minister on Monday announced a sweeping overhaul of the way the Australian Defence Force is deployed and assists local law enforcement at terrorist incidents, in the Government's response to the deadly 2014 Lindt Cafe siege in Sydney.

"Remember the circumstances in which the tactical assault group here can be deployed to an incident in Sydney itself is hours," he told reporters in Sydney.

"To other cities in Australia it is many hours. With these incidents, they are resolved typically very quickly.

"If you go to the London Borough market and London Bridge attack, the armed response group of the metropolitan police got there in eight minutes and they killed the three terrorists."

But the Prime Minister said options are needed, so it will be made it easier for troops to be deployed under "call out" powers.

It will "give States and the Commonwealth greater flexibility to deploy specialist ADF personnel and assets," Turnbull said.

"We will have a closer collaboration with the police. It is already close. We want to make it closer.

"We want to see more tactical response groups from the police training here. We want to raise their capabilities to respond to terrorist incidents."

It is a response to the deadly 2014 Lindt Cafe siege in Sydney where three people died in the cafe, including two hostages -- Tori Johnson and Katrina Dawson -- and the mentally-ill self-declared Islamic State terrorist Man Horon Monis.

But this overhaul would not have saved the hostages.

"The Coroner's conclusion was that the New South Wales police were fully capable of dealing with that situation," the Prime Minister said.

"What we do is constantly review the pattern of terrorist activity, both internationally and at home and then adapt our practices and our policies to adjust to that."

The first responders, under this plan, remain the sate and territory police forces.

"What I am doing is taking a lot of the red tape and the gum out of the works to enable the cooperation between the police and the ADF and particularly, the specialists, the operators... so they can work together more seamlessly," Turnbull said.

In a statement, the NSW Police Force said it "acknowledges" the Commonwealth's announcement.

"NSW Police are highly trained, equipped and ready to respond to all manner of incidents and we will continue to work collaboratively with our federal counterparts.

NSW Police Force

The Opposition is offering bipartisanship, but wants a briefing and to see legislation before giving the final tick.

"Our view has always been that at any moment in any crisis, we should be bringing to bear the most potent capability that our country has," Shadow Defence Minister Richard Marles told reporters in Melbourne.

"Be that in a state police force, be that in the Federal Police or indeed be that in the ADF."

"And that our law ought to be flexible enough to allow that to occur and our law ought to support the greatest degree of coordination possible between those agencies so that this can occur.

"We look forward to working with the Government to make this happen."

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