Terrorists in the line of fire

In an important step towards strengthening South Australia’s anti-terrorism capability, laws to enhance the capacity of police to use lethal force in a terrorist incident have passed State Parliament’s Lower House today.

The Terrorism (Police Powers) (Use of Force) Amendment Bill is an important tool for protecting the public and police from terrorists.

“Providing police with greater certainty regarding the use of lethal force against terrorists will reduce the likelihood of members of the public being injured in a terrorist incident,” said Attorney General Vickie Chapman.

“The increase in the number and complexity of terrorist attacks in Australia and around the world requires a legislative response that acknowledges the increased threat to the safety of the police and the public they are trying to protect.

“The Bill is similar to provisions introduced by the New South Wales Government in the wake of the Lindt Café siege and acts on concerns raised by the NSW Coroner that police officers were reluctant to use lethal force because they could not reasonably determine that the risk of death or serious injury to the hostages was imminent.

“It is critical that the law, doesn’t inhibit police using lethal force to protect the public in a terrorist incident.

“Under the changes in the law police officers who use lethal force in a declared terrorist incident will be protected from criminal liability unless the action was in contravention of an order from the police officer in charge or wasn’t in good faith.

“The Bill also includes a provision to protect the identity of police officers involved in the use of lethal force in a terrorist incident.

“The provision protecting the identity of police officers will have application in both the courts and the media to reduce the likelihood of retaliation from terrorist organisations.

“Under the legislation the Commissioner of Police will be able to issue a declaration that an incident is a terrorist incident where the Commissioner is satisfied that planned and coordinated police action is required to deal with the threat.

“The Commissioner’s declaration can be issued verbally in urgent circumstances and confirmed in writing as soon as is reasonably practical.

“The Marshall Government understands the rise in the threat of terrorism demands a calibrated legislative response that deals with the increased threat to the public.”