Former SAS commander-turned-politician Andrew Hastie says the Lindt Cafe siege suggests police and state governments are “not up to the task” of dealing with terror threats, and it should be easier for the military to become involved.
The NSW Coroner, families of siege victims Katrina Dawson and Tori Johnson, siege survivors and some security experts have been critical of NSW police for letting the December 2015 Sydney siege drag on for too long before storming the cafe and killing gunman Man Haron Monis.
While Sydney-based Australian Army commandos practised storming the building by using a replica of the Lindt Cafe on the day of the siege, they were never called upon by NSW police.
Mr Hastie, a Liberal MP who previously served in Afghanistan with the military, said the “threshold” for states asking for Commonwealth help in dealing with terror and security situation was too ambiguous.
States have the primary role for law enforcement under the Australian constitution, but the NSW response was clearly inadequate in relation to the Lindt siege, he told 6PR radio.
“It’s the state’s responsibility, they have lead on law enforcement, but if they are going to continue to respond to these sorts of terror threats they need to demonstrate adequate capacity and capability,” he said.
“The Lindt Cafe siege suggests they are not up to the task.”
Mr Hastie said if it was established a terror incident was being conducted by an organisation “listed” by the Commonwealth, it should be considered an attack on the Australian people, and the federal government should automatically take control.
He said as a former SAS soldier people wanted to hear his view.
“The most lethal means of statecraft resides with the ADF,” Mr Hastie said.
“Contain and negotiating which was the approach in the Lindt cafe siege isn’t going to work (in dealing with Islamic terrorists).”
The federal government is reviewing the military call-out powers in relation to terrorism events, but federal police chief Andrew Colvin has played down the need to make it easier.