Stephen Smith MP
Minister for Defence
Today I reintroduced into Parliament a Bill to enhance security at Defence bases across Australia. The Bill, previously introduced in June, lapsed when the Federal election was called.
Today’s reintroduction reflects the Government’s commitment to strengthen Defence’s capacity to deter, detect and respond to any attack on a base.
The Bill recognises the changing security environment, including the increased risk of terrorism. It was developed following a Defence review of protective security arrangements after the August 2009 arrest of a number of people allegedly planning an armed attack against Holsworthy Army Base.
A number of these men are presently facing terrorism charges in the Supreme Court of Victoria in relation to these allegations.
The Bill will provide explicit authority for authorised Defence Force members to protect themselves, or others, from death or serious injury in the event of an attack on a Defence base. It only has application within Australia and will not affect Australian Defence Force (ADF) operational activities overseas.
Under existing statutory provisions, Defence Force members are able to defend themselves from an attack. This Bill will provide greater certainty about the actions that appropriately trained and authorised Defence Force members could take to protect people in the event of an attack on a Defence base.
Civil police will still have the primary responsibility for responding to security incidents at Defence premises. The Bill will give authorised Defence Force members enhanced powers to assist in protecting people on Defence premises.
The Bill also provides search and seizure powers to reduce the risk of dangerous items being brought onto Defence premises, or weapons and classified information being unlawfully removed. It will also improve the ability to detect and deal with trespassers on Defence premises.
Security at Defence bases is under constant review. In addition to the Bill, Defence is implementing a range of other security measures as a result of its protective security review.
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