Australia opens way for faster military response to 'terrorist incidents'

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

The Sydney incident and a series of other "lone wolf" attacks have thrown police tactics and Australia's response to potential security threats, into sharp focus.

The government will also make changes to the act to make it easier for the ADF to support the police response, such as the ability to prevent suspected terrorists from leaving the scene of an incident. Elite special forces would have full legal authority to shoot and kill terrorists.

Hostages flee from the Lindt cafe in Martin Place during the early hours of December 16, 2014.

The changes come after his government initiated a review of the ADF's support to national counter-terrorism arrangements in 2016, following a spate of terrorist attacks around the world. We have to stay ahead of them. "We must constantly review and update our responses to the threat of terrorism".

As part of the measures, the military's special forces will provide specialized training to some police teams and soldiers will be placed within law enforcement agencies to improve engagement between authorities.

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. The coroner overseeing the Lindt cafe inquiry found the ADF did not need to be deployed because the complex callout criteria had not been met and NSW Police largely had the situation in hand.

The changes will include the removal of the provision that now limits states and territories from asking for ADF support and specialist military skills until their capability or capacity has been exceeded. This provision will be abolished.

"What we want to do is make sure we're working with the police, so whatever assets the Commonwealth has including the ADF (Australian Defence Force) are being used", Keenan said.

Shadow Minister for Defence Richard Marles said he supported the changes, but said Mr Turnbull politicised the military by posing with heavy weaponry and commandos for a televised press conference.

The proposed changes need parliament's approval.

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.

  • Rogelio Becker