POLICE will soon be armed with semi-automatic rifles and be given new powers to shoot and kill terrorists in NSW under news laws which are set to be introduced at the end of the month.
Premier Gladys Berejilikan announced the changes on Thursday and said the new legislation would provide certainty and legal protection for police to use lethal force against terrorists.
Responding to recommendations made in the Coronial Inquest into the Lindt Café Siege, Ms Berejiklian said it was crucial police had clear powers if required to use force to keep the community safe from terrorism.
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The NSW State Coroner recommended the Government consider legislative changes to ensure police have the necessary protections to resolve terrorist incidents in a manner that is most likely to minimise risk to the public.
The new powers will allow police snipers to shoot and kill assailants as soon as an event has been classified as an act of terror by the police commissioner.
Under the new laws, the Public Order and Riot Squad will be armed with semi-automatic weapons and existing arsenals used by specialist police, including those in regional areas, will be renewed.
Legislation will also be introduced to tighten provisions around parole which will see prisoners with terrorist links, or those who have been radicalised behind bars, have their parole applications rejected.
The new legislation will be introduced in the next sitting week and will be the strongest in the country.
“As we have seen as recently as this week in Melbourne and on the weekend with the cowardly, evil acts in London, we need to be ever-vigilant to the emerging and evolving risks of terrorism,” Ms Berejiklian said.
“NSW will continue to have the toughest counter-terror laws in the country and we will now give our Police clear protections if they need to use lethal force against terrorists.
Ms Berejiklian said the NSW Government accepted and supported all 45 recommendations made by Coroner in his measured and comprehensive report.
“My thoughts remain with the families and loved ones of Tori Johnson and Katrina Dawson, as well as the other hostages caught up in the Lindt Café Siege,” she said.
“I also take this opportunity to once again acknowledge the bravery of the police and first responders who put their lives on the line during the events of December 15 and 16, 2014.
“The Coroner made recommendations to the NSW Government as well as to the Commonwealth Government. Today we accept and support all of these recommendations.
“The Government will continue to do everything we can to keep the people of NSW safe.”