PM unveils strategy to combat 'constantly evolving' terror threat

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Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has announced a new national strategy to tackle the growing use of vehicles as weapons by terrorists.

Venue operators of crowded public places and architects of new buildings are being urged to have security top of mind under a new plan revealed by Malcolm Turnbull.

The prime minister's new national security program has been in the planning for a year but comes after the latest attack in Barcelona, in which a vehicle was once again used to mow down innocent people in a crowded area.

"It is part of our continuous program of optimising, improving the way we can keep Australians safe," Mr Turnbull told reporters in Sydney on Sunday.

He said Australia had the best security agencies in the world.

"But we recognise that the threat is constantly evolving, so what we have to do is to make sure we too are constantly improving and updating the measures we have."

States and territories have been involved in developing the plan.

Venue owners and operators will be given government and police help for security audits of their facilities to determine any weaknesses and develop strategies to strengthen and fortify such places.

There will be a greater use of permanent bollards - like in Sydney's busy Pitt Street shopping precinct - to separate vehicles from pedestrians and more use of police and security agencies around mass gatherings.

Under the new plan - Australia's Strategy For Protecting Crowded Places From Terrorism which has been under development since the Nice attack in July 2016 - new buildings will have to undertake security measures.

"The best mitigations are done at the design stage," Mr Turnbull said.

"You can't proof every site 100 per cent - there are certainly things that can be done to existing sites - but the most important thing is as you get new developments, new plans that security measures are put in place at that time."

The program, which provides a do-it-yourself toolkit on installing bollards and planters, and other methods of mitigating a hostile vehicle attack, was presented to businesses, councils and private operators last week.

It also provides guidelines on chemical attacks and what should be done in such instances. New buildings will also have to have security.

Cabinet minister Arthur Sinodinos said it couldn't be guaranteed there would be no attacks in Australia, but measures could be taken to deter, detect and ameliorate any consequences.

People had to get used to thinking about what they could do to give a greater chance of deterring someone from doing something.

"For a long time in Australia we've just had a mentality of live and let live and that we can walk around doing whatever we want," he told ABC TV on Sunday.

"Now we have to have more of that 'be alert but not alarmed' mentality."

National plan to protect crowded places

  • Crowded places are defined as locations easily accessible by large numbers of people on a predictable basis
  • They include sports stadiums, public transport, shopping centres, pubs and clubs, places of worship, movie theatres, parks or pedestrian malls
  • Owners and operators of crowded places have primary responsibility for protecting their sites and the people who work or visit there
  • Security considerations must be incorporated into planning - including executive decision-making, training staff and encouraging them to report vulnerabilities and incidents
  • Police will run crowded places forums where business and venue owners and governments can share information
  • Forums will report regularly to a national advisory group
  • An online self-assessment tool will help decide how attractive a particular crowded place might be as a terrorist target
  • Assessment factors include historical, religious, cultural or political symbolis, how many people can gather there, and whether the timing of crowds is predictable
  • Crowded places security audit available online plus suggestions for how to hire a reliable security consultant to do an assessment
  • Deterrence and detection measures include fences, CCTV cameras, lighting, security patrols, barriers or bollards, alarm systems, and screening procedures
  • Measures to respond to a potential attack include having trained security staff, an emergency communication system and comprehensive security plans
  • Detailed guidelines for dealing with armed offenders, bombs, chemical weapons and vehicle attacks are available online at www.nationalsecurity.gov.au
  • Police will provide specific information on local threats to owners and operators
  • General public encouraged to report suspicious or unusual behaviour to local police on 131 444 (in Victoria 1800 333 000) or the national security hotline on 1800 123 400

 

Source AAP

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