The Australian government is planning to bring in new laws to allow for the rapid deployment of troops to support police against any terrorist attack. The changes could be in place ahead of the Commonwealth Games in Melbourne next March. The move comes days after Prime Minister John Howard introduced tough new anti-terror laws into parliament.
Critics have insisted these new laws have more to do with politics than national security. The Australian government believes the military can provide valuable muscle in the fight against terrorism. The plan to deploy troops in an emergency will be considered by senior ministers in the coming weeks.
The proposals have caused unease among some opposition politicians. They have insisted the new laws are unnecessary, because the armed forces already have the capacity to intervene in a crisis. The defence department, however, said current measures were limited and impractical.
Green party Senator Kerry Nettle said the move to give the army greater powers was a cynical ploy by the government to divert attention away from its controversial industrial relations legislation.
The Australian Prime Minister John Howard has dismissed the accusation as "ridiculous." I.L.