- Parliamentary Business
- Senators & Members
- News & Events
- About Parliament
- Visit Parliament
Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
National move to combat terror.
ATTORNEY-GENERAL THE HON. DARYL WILLIAMS AM QC MP
7 April 2002 37/02
NATIONAL MOVE TO COMBAT TERROR
The Commonwealth will take strategic control of national terrorist incidents in the most significant change to Australian terrorism management for more than 20 years.
Attacks on Commonwealth targets, across State and Territory borders, civil aviation and those involving chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear materials will fall under the new classification of “national terrorist situations”.
In such situations, all Commonwealth, State and Territory counter-terrorism resources will be coordinated at a national level to ensure a quick and effective response.
I congratulate the States and Territories on their recognition of the need for national coordination in certain terrorist situations and for agreeing to this new mechanism at Friday’s Leaders Summit on Terrorism and Multi-Jurisdictional Crime.
The attacks on the United States on September 11 last year challenged our understanding of the nature and potential scale of terrorism.
The Commonwealth has since moved quickly to bolster its ability to defend Australians and Australian interests against such devastating events. We have already introduced a package of specific counter-terrorism legislation.
The outcome of the Leaders Summit adds significantly to this response and should promote greater public confidence in Australia’s ability to combat terrorism.
Commonwealth, State and Territory leaders also agreed:
â¢ That the Commonwealth will consult and seek the agreement of affected States and Territories before a national terrorist situation is declared and States and Territories agree not to withhold unreasonably such agreement.
â¢ To take whatever action is necessary to ensure that terrorists can be prosecuted under the criminal law, including a reference of power of specific, jointly agreed legislation, including roll-back provisions to ensure that the new Commonwealth law does not override State law where that is not intended and to come into effect by 31 October 2002. The Commonwealth will have power to amend the new Commonwealth legislation in accordance with provisions similar to those which apply under Corporations arrangements. Any amendment based on the referred power will require consultation with and agreement of States and Territories, and this requirement to be contained in the legislation.
â¢ That all jurisdictions will review their legislation and counter-terrorism arrangements to make sure that they are sufficiently strong.
â¢ That the Commonwealth and States and Territories will continue to:
- improve Australia’s anti-terrorist intelligence capacity and to develop effective means for sharing intelligence; and
- significantly upgrade the central coordination capacity so that the operational arms of the Commonwealth and the States and Territories can obtain the information and strategic advice necessary to respond rapidly and effectively.
â¢ The existing Standing Advisory Committee on Commonwealth/State Cooperation for Protection Against Violence (SAC-PAV) will also be reconstituted as the National Counter-Terrorism Committee, with a broader mandate to cover prevention and consequence management issues and with Ministerial oversight arrangements.
The agreement sets out a clear mechanism where the Commonwealth takes charge of the strategic coordination of Commonwealth, State and Territory resources in a national terrorist situation.
This is a significant change from provisions under the existing National Anti-Terrorist Plan, which is based on individual State jurisdictions. While the plan identifies responsible agencies and communication paths, the coordination of responses has been done on a case-by-case basis.
The National Anti-Terrorist Plan has served us well. But we can not afford to be complacent. The world has become a different place.
The new mechanism agreed by Commonwealth, State and Territory leaders establishes clear operational and strategic coordination roles to ensure we respond to any national terrorist situations from the strongest possible position.
Media Contact: Carina Tan-Van Baren (02) 6277 7300/ 0419 423 965 www.law.gov.au