Subjects: Defence Call-outs
DAVID KOCH: Now, requests to call in the army during terrorist attacks are being introduced in Federal Parliament today. The new laws will allow our troops to be on patrol at events if there's a terror threat. The power overhaul means the Defence Force can more easily be enlisted to help police. It comes after a review into Sydney's deadly Lindt Cafe siege. Attorney-General Christian Porter joins me now from Canberra. AG, thank you for your time. What extra powers will this bill give to the army?
ATTORNEY-GENERAL: Well, what it would allow the army to do is be called out on a cooperative basis. The present threshold for a callout for the ADF for a terror incident only arises if the state authorities, the police, make a determination that they're completely overwhelmed by the situation. As you can appreciate, Koshie, that's an incredibly high threshold and it's not even a determination that you could make until well into a terrorist event. Whereas the ADF have a range of specialist skills, equipment and assets, they are prepared for biological and chemical attacks. So we want to be able to be in a situation where on a cooperative basis, pursuant to proper request, we could put those assets into the field to save Australian lives.
DAVID KOCH: I think this is a great idea. It worries me when you say cooperative basis. Who makes the decision to bring in the ADF?
ATTORNEY-GENERAL: So, the process would be the state authorities, the state police, if it were a state incident, would make a determination that the ADF could assist.
DAVID KOCH: ....but isn't that- wasn't that the problem with Lindt Cafe? That there was the- it's almost a sign of weakness by the police to say, oh we need help. How do you get over that?
ATTORNEY-GENERAL: You change the threshold. So, the threshold that operated in the Lindt Cafe, was that the state police had to make an acknowledgement that they were completely overwhelmed by the situation. The new standard will be that state police can assess the situation and determine whether a particular ADF asset could assist them. So, the types of situations you'd be looking at are very long siege situations or, heaven forbid, if we ever had anything like the Paris terror attacks, where you've got multiple incidences of violence geographically spread out. These are the types of things where the police could make an early decision that our assets could help and they could make a request for them.
DAVID KOCH: Will our Defence Force be used, say, at the AFL Grand Final? Will that become standard?
ATTORNEY-GENERAL: Well, I wouldn't say standard, but at the moment the ADF can be deployed on a contingent basis to protect Commonwealth assets from things like air attack, but that doesn't apply to purely state-based events. So we can prepare for an air attack to something like APEC, but not something like the Australian Football League Grand Final.
DAVID KOCH: Okay.
ATTORNEY-GENERAL: That doesn't make much sense. So we want to make those a very consistent set of approaches.
DAVID KOCH: Okay. Alright. Christian Porter, thanks for joining us.