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Australia's special forces to be used during domestic terror attacks
Last Updated: 2017-07-17 09:07 | Xinhua
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The Australian Defence Force (ADF) will soon be given special powers to play a larger role in responding to domestic terror events, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said on Monday.

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.

"State and territory police forces remain the best first response to terrorist incidents, immediately after an attack starts," Turnbull said.

"But 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."

The measures comes months after the prime minister ordered a review of terror response, after it was concluded that police were ill-equipped and too slow in responding to the Lindt cafe siege in Sydney in 2014.

Speaking about the changes on Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) radio on Monday, Justice Minister Michael Keenan said police would not be resigned "to the back seat" in terror operations, merely, the special forces would work alongside police to provide the best response to terror attacks.

"We already have a strong relationship between military and police, and these changes will build on that strong relationship," Keenan said.

"In 2005, we never would have imagined Australia would be under the current terrorism threat that it is, so we need to make sure that the 'call out' powers are appropriate for the current circumstances."

Keenan added that the defence force would not be required for all terror-related operations, only "niche" ones which are deemed suitable.

"There would only be limited circumstances in which the niche military capabilities that we have would be required," he said.

The minister also downplayed the possibility of the government forming a Britain-style "Home Office," or a U.S.-style Department of Homeland Security to better share intelligence.

"The terrorism response we have at the moment is good, as are the links between state and federal police and intelligence organizations."

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