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Monday, 22 October 2018
Page: 10579


Ms O'TOOLE (Herbert) (15:14): I would like to acknowledge my colleagues the member for Canberra and the member for Lingiari for their considerable contributions and expert knowledge. Firstly, I would also like to acknowledge the serving members in my electorate of Herbert who last week participated in a welcome home parade to mark their return from overseas deployment. Your service to this nation is truly valued and appreciated and we are grateful for the work that you undertake. I am personally thankful that you have returned home safely to your families. I also want to particularly thank your families, who all too often are not acknowledged for the sacrifices they make whilst you are deployed overseas. It is because of these brave men and women that we live in one of the best democracies in the world. Whenever I speak with current serving members, they always acknowledge the fact that they could not do the work they do without the support of their families. So an additional acknowledgement to family members is needed in this place.

There is no greater responsibility for every member in this place than keeping Australians safe. When it comes to fighting terrorism and Islamic terrorism, we are all in this together. Terror is random, unpredictable and alien to our values, our faiths and our way of life. Yet, we have come to recognise a pattern and a ritual. We light up our landmarks and our candles. We share stories of heroism and survival. We send sympathy and we stand in solidarity. There is absolute value and merit in all of this activity. But unity in grief is not enough. We owe those who have lost their lives defending our freedoms more than mourning. We have a responsibility to see justice done and to ensure that terrorism is prevented, defeated and eliminated. We must defeat terrorism on the open battlefield abroad.

Both sides of this parliament support the international coalition mission in Iraq and Syria. Both sides of this parliament support, admire and salute the men and women of the Australian Defence Force who put their lives on the line in our country's name for the causes of freedom and peace. Important progress is being made against the so-called Islamic State. Its territory is being eroded, its resources depleted. Australia is doing its fair share as a good international citizen to deny safe havens for terrorists, restricting their ability to export violence. We must continue to work closely with our allies and friends around the world to neutralise the transnational efforts of extremist groups, including choking off their financial and communication capabilities. We need a renewed focus on cyberthreats, from attacks on government institutions, breaches of individual privacy, identity theft, industrial espionage and interference in elections. We must ensure that our agencies and security personnel are properly supported, equipped, funded and paid for the important work that they do for all Australians.

In the fight against terrorism, we must all play a part—governments and opposition at every level. That is why I stand here today with my Labor colleagues to support this bill, the Defence Amendment (Call Out of the Australian Defence Force) Bill 2018. It is so important to make sure our national security arrangements are kept up to date to keep Australians safe and protect the freedoms that make our society what it is today.

In July 2017, the government announced a number of measures to enhance the support provided by the ADF for the national counterterrorism arrangements. The Department of Defence has already implemented a number of initiatives to provide greater practical support for state and territory law enforcement agencies, including an enhanced counterterrorism liaison network, an enhanced program of specialist training activities and streamlined police access to Defence facilities such as ranges. This bill is part of those measures announced in 2017.

The Defence Act 1903, as it currently stands, outlines two types of call-out orders: an order for the ADF to be called out immediately; or a contingent call-out order, whereby the ADF can be called out if specified circumstances arise. There are four principles which underpin the proposed changes to call-out provisions. The ADF should only be called out to assist civilian authorities. If the ADF is called out, civilian authorities remain paramount, but the ADF members remain under military command. When called out, ADF members can only use force that is reasonable and necessary in all circumstances. ADF personnel remain subject to the law and are accountable for their actions. These principles are important and have guided the necessary changes outlined in this bill.

The Defence Amendment (Call Out of the Australian Defence Force) Bill 2018 amends the Defence Act on four points. Firstly, the bill will make it easier for states and territories to request ADF support. Currently, the Defence Act prevents the ADF from being called out until such time as states and territories are not, or are unlikely to be, able to protect themselves or Commonwealth interests against domestic violence. The amendments provide a more flexible and responsible threshold that requires ministers to consider the nature of the violence or threat and whether calling out the ADF would be likely to enhance the state or territory's ability to respond to the threat. This amendment bill will allow greater flexibility for the ADF to provide the most rapid, effective and appropriate specialist support in responding to terrorist incidents while at the same time respecting the states and territories' position as first responders. The state and territory police forces will remain the first responders to terrorist incidents, and call-out of the ADF will only be able to be considered following a request from the state or territory.

Secondly, the bill will simplify, expand and clarify the ADF's powers. The bill simplifies, expands and clarifies the ADF's search and seizure powers when they are operating under a call-out order. This means that ADF personnel will be authorised to search for and seize items and search for and detain people that are likely to pose a threat to a person's life, health and safety or to public health or safety generally. Currently, the ADF search powers in specified areas focus predominantly on dangerous things and do not authorise them to search for and detain people.

Thirdly, it enhances the ADF's ability to respond to multiple incidents occurring in more than one jurisdiction or across jurisdictions, as well as to incidents which cross jurisdictional boundaries, including offshore.

Finally, the bill will allow for pre-authorisation for the ADF to respond to threats on land, at sea and in the air. Typically used as part of measures during major events such as the G20 or the Commonwealth Games, pre-authorised or contingent call-out allows ministers to pre-authorise the ADF to respond if specific circumstances arise. Currently, contingent call-out is limited to the protection of Commonwealth interests from air threats. This type of contingent call-out order has been regularly made as part of security measures to protect major Commonwealth events such as the G20, the ASEAN summit and the Commonwealth Games from air threats. The bill will extend contingent call-out to be available for the protection of both Commonwealth interests and state and territory interests from threats in the land, air and maritime domains. The purpose of this amendment is to remove potential delays in seeking ministerial authorisation for ADF support once a threat is considered imminent or immediately after the event occurs. It will also provide additional support options in planning for major events such as the ASEAN Special Summit or the G20.

The bill also contains a number of provisions in support of those amendments outlined above, including an increase in the requirement for the ADF to consult with state and territory police where it is operating in their jurisdiction, and adding the Minister for Home Affairs as a named alternative authorising minister for expedited call-out.

Defeating the scourge of terrorism demands our every effort, our total energy and our complete unity of purpose—unity in this parliament through continued thoughtful bipartisan cooperation; unity in the nation, working with the Muslim community to identify people at risk of radicalisation and prevent them from heading down a path of, sadly, no return; unity in the region, where we face the ongoing challenge of returning foreign fighters driven out of the Middle East by the efforts of Australian forces, among others; and unity with other free nations, standing against terrorism's assault on the rights of their citizens to live in peace and security. I am the member who represents the largest garrison city in this country. These changes are important to allow those serving men and women to do what they do best: serve and protect this great nation. I am very proud to support this bill.