The Australian Defence Force will expand its role in assisting the states to respond to terrorist incidents under new changes being made by the Turnbull Government.
The overhaul will make it easier for Defence to work together with Federal, State and Territory Police in the event of a terrorist incident.
To stay ahead of the evolving threat of terrorism, the Turnbull Government reviewed Defence’s support to domestic counter-terrorism arrangements to ensure Australia has a co-ordinated and integrated response.
State and Territory Police Forces remain the best first response to terrorist incidents, immediately after an attack starts.
But Defence can offer more support to states and territories to enhance their capabilities and increase their understanding of Defence’s unique capabilities to ensure a comprehensive response to potential terrorist attacks.
Under the changes:
- Defence will offer State and Territory Governments specialised training from Special Forces for select law enforcement teams.
- Defence will offer states and territories placement of officers within law enforcement agencies to assist with liaison and engagement.
- This strengthening of engagement will assist with pre-positioning of the ADF in response to a possible terrorist incident.
- The Government will strengthen Part IIIAAA of the Defence Act to remove some constraints in the provisions to “call out” the ADF to assist states and territories.
- This will include the removal of the provision that currently limits states and territories from asking for ADF support and specialist military skills until their capability or capacity has been exceeded.
- The Government will also make changes to the Act to make it easier for Defence to support the police response, such as the ability to prevent suspected terrorists from leaving the scene of an incident.
These measures are intended to provide increased Commonwealth support to states and territories in their role as first responders to a domestic terrorist incident. In particular these measures will:
- better support states and territories in preparing for terrorist incidents
- enable a more comprehensive ADF response to a terrorist incident if required
- improve information flows between the ADF and police during an incident.
Together, these measures will improve the nation’s ability to respond to terrorism as well as improve the effectiveness of Defence’s contribution to domestic counter-terrorism arrangements. The changes will be made in partnership with State and Territory Governments and we look forward to future engagement through the Council of Australian Governments and the Australia-New Zealand Counter Terrorism Committee.
The Government’s number one priority is keeping Australians safe.
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.
The Turnbull Government initiated the review of Defence’s support to national counter-terrorism arrangements in 2016 in response to the changing nature of the threat as demonstrated in recent terrorist attacks around the world.
It’s the first time Defence’s contribution to domestic counter-terrorism has been reviewed since 2005.
It is essential that Australia evolves its responses and counter-measures in response to the changing threat. Defence must be able to contribute effectively to domestic counter-terrorism efforts, in addition to its offshore counter-terrorism missions and regional capacity-building activities.
17 July 2017
Minister for Defence