Sydney Harbour Counter-terrorism Exercise



About this Item
SubjectsPolice: New South Wales; Terrorism; Defence
SpeakersSpeaker; Shearan Mr Allan; Scully Mr Carl
BusinessQuestions Without Notice


    SYDNEY HARBOUR COUNTER-TERRORISM EXERCISE
Page: 306


    Mr ALLAN SHEARAN: My question is addressed to the Minister for Police. What is the latest information on the Government's efforts to protect Sydney from the threat of terrorism and related matters?

    Mr CARL SCULLY: Last week about 400 trained emergency services personnel—both Federal and State—participated in a counter-terrorism exercise on Sydney Harbour. Neptune's Treasure was a three-day tactical exercise that presented unique challenges to NSW Police, working in conjunction with the Australian Defence Force and emergency services personnel. The scenario involved terrorists hijacking two ferries on Sydney Harbour. Critical infrastructure was threatened, as were a number of hostages on board the Sydney ferries. For the first time in these exercises our combined forces were presented with the task of dealing with two terrorist strongholds at the same time. The situation was resolved when simultaneous assaults were launched on both vessels in the early hours.

    I am advised that the results of the exercise were as follows. Two police officers were "killed" in the scenario, three hostages were "injured"—although none seriously—and 17 terrorists were "killed". If such an incident really happened it would be unpredictable and our police would be placed in high-risk situations. A detailed assessment of what took place is now under way, as would happen if a similar incident really occurred. It is most important that Federal and State law enforcement agencies learn from this scenario. In particular, I have asked why the two police officers were "killed". Was it a command-and-control situation? Did those individual officers make decisions that resulted in their deaths? Would changes to command-and-control arrangements and decision making on the ground minimise the risk of deaths occurring if a terrorist event were to unfold?

    That brings me to the shadow Minister for Emergency Services. He disgraced himself. Anyone who is vaguely familiar with the 9/11 commission of inquiry will know that one of its principal findings was that North American law enforcement agencies failed to co-operate. They were working with a silo mentality and not co-operating or sharing information. In fact, law enforcement agencies throughout the Western World have learned from 9/11 and its commission of inquiry. There is an enormous level of co-operation between State and Federal law enforcement agencies and their counterparts in London, elsewhere in Europe and in North America.

    The New South Wales police force has a very good working relationship with the Australian Federal Police, ASIO, the customs office, and our military. One would think the Opposition would recognise that it is sensible to conduct a Federal-State co-operative exercise involving a terrorist scenario on Sydney Harbour in which our State law enforcement agencies and the military also participated. But, no, that character opposite held a press conference and said, "This is a political stunt." I was reeling from that attack. I thought, "That's it, let's cancel the exercise. Go to the Premier and ring the Prime Minister! It's all off because Andrew Humpherson says this is a stunt. Sorry, to the 400 personnel involved in the exercise." But the honourable member's absolute clanger—his knock-out blow—was his claim that the State Government was hanging onto the coat-tails of the Federal Government.

    Mr SPEAKER: Order! The honourable member for Davidson will resume his seat. I call him to order.
    [Interruption]

    Mr SPEAKER: Order! The honourable member for Davidson will stop exposing the House to his nonsense and resume his seat. I call him to order for the second time.

    Mr CARL SCULLY: This character is obviously embarrassed about his behaviour. Who was at the scenario launch with the Premier? None other than the Federal Minister for Justice and Customs, Chris Ellison, representing the Prime Minister. He is my counterpart at Australasian meetings of Justice and Police Ministers. And who was by his side? None other than the Chief of Staff, Tactical Action Group East. I was aware of the Opposition's view about the exercise, so I asked the chief of staff, "What are the roles of the military and our law enforcement agencies?" I was interested to hear a military view. He replied, "It's quite simple: the law enforcement agencies of the States have the primary lead role in managing a terrorist scenario." So I asked about the role of the military. He replied, "Not surprisingly, it's a combat role." He then said, "If terrorists need to be killed quickly and hostages freed urgently, the military is called in, they take over and then it goes to the law enforcement agencies." They were his words, and I hope we never reach that situation. Those opposite have absolutely no idea.

    Mr SPEAKER: Order! I call the honourable member for Davidson to order for the third time. I have now called the honourable member for Davidson to order three times. I warn him that one more transgression will lead to his removal from the Chamber, and it will not be for only an hour or two.

    Mr CARL SCULLY: There is great co-operation between the Premier, the Prime Minister, me, my counterparts at the Federal level, Ken Moroney, Mick Keelty—who has been doing a fantastic job—and the head of ASIO. The Federal and State governments are working together across the political divide, irrespective of the different political parties represented, and this character opposite wanders bone-headed into his own press conference and makes those comments. But I do not hold the honourable member fully responsible. He speaks on behalf of his leader so he would not have made those remarks unless the honourable member for Vaucluse had okayed them.

    Mr Peter Debnam: Point of order: I had thought the Minister for Police was looking like a real Premier but I think he has lost the plot.

    Mr SPEAKER: Order! The Leader of the Opposition will resume his seat.

    [Interruption]

    Mr SPEAKER: Order! The Leader of the Opposition will resume his seat. The Minister for Police has the call.

    Mr CARL SCULLY: The Leader of the Opposition mentioned alternative Premiers so let us talk about him. I think we are entitled to hear about his performance. On Sunday the Premier, the Leader of the Opposition and I attended the police union conference, which is held every two years. The performance of the Leader of the Opposition was embarrassing. It was pathetic.

    Mr SPEAKER: Order! The honourable member for Murrumbidgee will come to order.

    Mr CARL SCULLY: The Leader of the Opposition pretends to hold dear the issue of law and order. He is always jumping up and bagging the cops, making disparaging remarks about police senior leadership, and trying to earn credit. I thought the Leader of the Opposition might have something sensible to say on Sunday. I am told he had to be convinced by the union to attend because he did not think the conference was important. Then he could not work out what to say. His office was in a panic, frantically looking for the speech he gave two years ago. He found the two-year-old speech and used half of it as the basis of his address to the conference.

    The rest of his presentation clearly showed that the Leader of the Opposition had not thought about the issues of moment to police across the State. He had not thought about the law and order issues that matter to our community. He had only a collection of notes that he had scribbled down in the car on the way up the F3. Contrast the performance of the Leader of the Opposition with that of the Premier, on behalf of the Government. We read about it in the newspaper. The Premier gave a fantastic presentation to the conference on a range of issues to do with complaints handling, making police officers' jobs easier, streamlining red tape and providing safer working environments. All the issues that police are worried about were robustly addressed by the Premier and were very well received. I asked some of the police, who are not necessarily interested—
    [Interruption]

    Mr SPEAKER: Order! The honourable member for Bathurst will come to order.

    Mr CARL SCULLY: I said to them "What did you think of that performance?" I personally found it pathetic and embarrassing, and they seconded it. The Opposition has this character going around bagging the Commonwealth-States relationships on counter terrorism—and shame on you; I am disgusted by your behaviour. Then the Leader of the Opposition insulted delegates at a conference, first by saying he would not attend, second by saying he might turn up late, and third by not bothering to think about the issues that really matter to them. Shame on you! You are unfit to govern.