Australian army's powers beefed up for terror attacks

Australian army's powers beefed up for terror attacks

Australian army's powers beefed up for terror attacks

According to new measures announced on Monday by Malcolm Turnbull, Australia's prime minister, state and territory governments would be able to call for military help any time a "terror incident" is declared.

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

"Our police and law enforcement are the best in the world. if it's a situation where we have some specialist capability within the Australian Defence Force, or we had a requirement to use the Australian Defence Force in counter-terrorism response, I think Australians would understand we need to have the most flexible arrangements possible".

The new powers will also allow troops to help police stop suspected terrorists from leaving the scene of an incident.?

"We can not afford to take a "set and forget" mentality on national security", Mr Turnbull said.

Special Forces soldiers will provide specialised training to state and territory police forces and some may be embedded to improve cooperation.

Local police will still take the lead in responding to terrorist incidents.

In May, a coronial inquiry established that police had failed to give a swift response to a 16-hour siege at a central Sydney cafe in December 2014.

The Australian Defence Force has two tactical assault groups - one in Sydney and one in Perth - on standby to rapidly deploy to a terrorist attack.

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Previously, the military were "called out" for assistance by a state only if local police capabilities were exceeded during an incident.

State and territory police forces would remain as the first response, but the military would offer support to enhance their capabilities, Turnbull said.

The ADF will offer state and territory governments specialised training from special forces for select law enforcement teams.

"As public officials in this space, we must always ensure we never politicise the ADF".

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

In a joint statement released with Defence Minister Marise Payne, Turnbull said that while elite special forces will be given greater powers in the event of domestic terror-related incidents, police will continue to play a leading role in the overall response.

"Contain and negotiating, which was the approach in the Lindt cafe siege, isn't going to work [in dealing with Islamist terrorists]".

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