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Australian Military To Be Given More Power To Tackle Terror Incidents

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Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull

While people took to Twitter to mock the PM's delivery, the proposed laws potentially deliver sweeping new military powers that should be taken pretty seriously.

Now defence forces can only be deployed if state police are unable to respond to the level of the threat.

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.

Australia has seen several Islamist-inspired attacks over the past years, prompting a review of how police and authorities can respond better.

The military will also be allowed on the streets to support the wider police response, including blocking potential suspects from leaving the scene.

Turnbull also mentioned implementing "full legal protections to ensure that police are empowered to use lethal force where the public is at risk".

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

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", Turnbull told reporters at the Holsworthy Barracks in Sydney's southwest.

Under the changes, certain state police teams would get specialist SAS training and could even have military personnel embedded to improve communications between the agencies.

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

Under the current system, the ADF can only be deployed if state or territory police believe their capability or capacity to respond has been exceeded. This provision will be abolished.

State and Territory Police Forces remain the best first response to terrorist incidents, immediately after an attack starts.

The proposed changes need parliament's approval.

Turnbull had been hinting for months of plans to strengthen Australia's counter-terrorism regime following the coronial report into the Lindt cafe siege.

"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.

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