National

Define military call out grounds: Senate

By AAP Newswire

The federal government is being urged by its own backbench MPs to clearly define the circumstances under which the military can be deployed in response to domestic terrorist events.

Earlier this year, the government introduced legislation aimed at making it easier for the states and territories to enlist help from the Australian Defence Force in response to instances of violence and terror.

The changes were largely driven by the findings of several reviews into the deadly 2014 Lindt Cafe siege.

The proposed legislation would make it easier for the military to assist in the event of widespread, coordinated acts of terrorism and violent incidents.

The ADF would also be pre-authorised to respond to threats on land, sea and in the air.

Its powers to search, seize and control movement at the scene of a terrorist incident would also be expanded, along with its ability to respond to incidents occurring in more than one jurisdiction.

Liberal and Labor members of a Senate committee have recommended the Commonwealth define in legislation the specific circumstances in which the ADF can be called upon.

In a report tabled this week, the major parties still recommended that the draft laws be passed, but the Greens have provided a dissenting report demanding they be scrapped.

The Greens cited evidence from human rights lawyers, who told the committee deploying the military on to the streets of Australia and granting it the wide-ranging powers proposed in the bill was a serious issue.

It also highlighted a recommendation from civil libertarians that the bill be redrafted to address human rights issues, including the right to freedom of association and free speech.

"This bill overreaches its claimed aims considerably. It is a sledgehammer to crack a nut," Civil Liberties Australia said in its submission.

The legislation is before the lower house.