The Australian prime minister says Canberra is set to extend the powers of the military to take action in response to potential terrorist attacks in the country.
On Monday, Malcolm Turnbull announced a set of proposed changes to Australia’s security laws, which pave the way for an easier army deployment to respond to “terrorist incidents.”
Under the changes territory police forces would remain the first responders to possible terror attacks on Australian soil, but they would be authorized to ask for the army’s help during such incidents before exhausting all their capacity.
Special forces would also be embedded in law enforcement agencies for better cooperation. Defense officials will also provide specialized training to police forces as part of the measures.
“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 (Australian Defense Forces) and particularly the specialists ... so they can work together more seamlessly,” Turnbull said on Monday.
“In the current threat environment, it’s most likely that a terrorist attack will use simple methodologies, a knife, a gun, a vehicle and the attack itself could be over in minutes,” Turnbull said.
He said the proposed measures “will ensure that the ADF is more readily available to respond to terrorism incidents, providing state and territory police with the extra support to call on when they need it.”
Turnbull also said the government will need to mobilize all available resources to stand up against terrorists.
“Our enemies are agile and innovative….We have to ensure that every resource we have - legislative, military, police, intelligence, security - is always at the highest standard … We have to stay ahead of them,” he said.
The decision to grant the army greater powers came following a review of security forces’ responses to a spate of local and international 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. Two hostages were killed in the siege, which was described as Australia’s deadliest Daesh-inspired incident.
The Australian prime minister recently paid a visit to the site of a Daesh terror attack in London, which left seven people dead and nearly 50 others wounded on June 3.

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