Bill makes ADF call-outs for domestic security incidents easier

28 June 2018

Bill makes ADF call-outs for domestic security incidents easier

New legislation introduced to the Parliament will make it easier for State Governments to deploy Australian Defence Force personnel in the event of domestic security events.

The Defence Amendment (Call Out of the Australian Defence Force) Bill 2018 was introduced to the House of Representatives by Attorney-General Christian Porter on Thursday.

The Bill amends the Defence Act 1903 to allow the Governor-General or an authorising federal minister (which includes the Prime Minister, Defence Minister and Attorney General), at the request of states and territories, to make an order calling out the ADF, including special forces, to help a State Government deal with domestic security incidents and violence.

ADF personnel will have the power to search, detain, control access to buildings, and use reasonable force in situations such as sieges, attacks similar to those committed in Paris in 2015, chemical or biological incidents, or even widespread rioting.

State authorities at present must believe that they are overwhelmed by an incident and cannot deal with it by themselves before calling out the ADF.

The Bill only requires the Governor General or authorizing federal minister to feel that the violence is serious and that calling out the ADF would resolve the situation.

The changes were prompted by a Defence counter-terrorism review in the wake of the Lindt cafe siege in 2014.

The Attorney General called the changes the most significant alterations to the Defence Act since the lead up to the 2000 Olympics, and justified them in the face of a ‘greater and more complex’ terror threat than 20 years ago.