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Military to gain new terror powers


Malcolm Turnbull wants to make it easier for Australia’s military to help police deal with terrorist attacks, including streamlining the process for the defence forces to be called out to incidents.

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

“Our enemies are agile and innovative. We have to stay ahead of them,” Turnbull told reporters at the Holsworthy Barracks in Sydney’s southwest.

Citing recent attacks in London, he insisted police would remain the first responders to any incident but it was time to increase co-operation with the military.

Defence will offer soldiers for embedding within police forces to bolster engagement between authorities.

“We have to ensure that every resource we have, legislative, military, police, intelligence, security is always at the highest standard and able to be brought to bear to keep Australians safe,” Turnbull said.

The process involved in a military ‘call out’ to an incident, including a provision that limits the states from asking for military assistance until their capability has been exceeded, will be streamlined.

“If we are ever required to be called out it … allows us to support them more quickly and in a better way,” defence force chief Mark Binskin said.

The changes come after recent international terrorist attacks and follow a review into the deadly 2014 Lindt Cafe siege in Sydney.

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

“It would be quite wrong of me to start trying to re-open the issues around the the Lindt Cafe,” he told ABC radio.

State and federal governments are working together on recommendations from the coroner’s report.

Labor is expected to support the new measures.

Defence spokesman Richard Marles says the training and embedding of defence force members is uncontroversial.

The Opposition will seek more details and a briefing from the government, but wants to deal with the proposals in a bipartisan way.

New terror powers: in summary

SPECIAL forces will provide select state and territory police teams with specialised training.

SOLDIERS may be placed within police forces to help with Australian Defence Force liaison.

THE legal process to “call out” the ADF streamlined.

STATE premiers, ministers and police commissioners will make decision based on need.

NEW powers to prevent suspected terrorists from leaving the scene of an incident.


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