Ms KRISTINA KENEALLY: My question is addressed to the Premier. What is the latest information on joint Commonwealth-State efforts to guard against acts of terrorism?
Mr MORRIS IEMMA: One of the most pressing law and order challenges facing New South Wales is terrorism. We must be prepared to counter any threat to the safety and security of the citizens of this State. The Government has ensured that counter-terrorism remains a priority in the wake of the events of 9/11 and in Bali.
Mr SPEAKER: Order! The honourable member for Gosford will cease calling out. I call the Deputy Leader of the Opposition to order.
Mr MORRIS IEMMA: We will await Opposition members' contribution to the consideration of urgent motions. We have significantly boosted our counter-terrorism capacity. This has involved close co-operation with our counterparts at both Commonwealth and State levels. We are constantly building our police tactical capacity—and our police force—and testing that capacity and our command systems through realistic exercises. We regularly take part in counter-terrorism activities with the Federal Government and other State governments.
The latest of these exercises is called Blue Luminary. This major exercise will run in three phases during September and October. Phase one has been running this week and concerns a siege-hostage scenario, with a jet containing passengers hijacked in midair and landed at Sydney Airport. It involves the recapture of the hijacked aircraft and the rescue of the hostages. Taking part in this exercise is the NSW Police Tactical Operations Unit and Australian Defence Force personnel who have stormed the aircraft. The final element of phase one will examine another important aspect of this kind of operation, the rescue of hostages. Following lessons learned after the London bombings, our training programs also encompass how to look after dozens or even hundreds of hostages who must be treated, counselled, debriefed and reunited with their families.
Mr Barry O'Farrell: There is a program for you, Bryce, don't worry!
Mr MORRIS IEMMA: Watch how seriously he takes counter-terrorism preparations. The first phase is now concluding, and I thank local residents for their patience with any noise or other disturbance that occurred. The second and third phases of this exercise will occur during the next few weeks and will look at how to deal with a major airliner crashing into a populated part of Sydney and how to handle a threat to patrons at a major venue.
Mr Andrew Stoner: At police stations do they have machine guns?
Mr MORRIS IEMMA: No, the exercises are crashing into a populated part of Sydney and a major venue, for the benefit of the Leader of The Nationals. The Government's planning will be a very real concern in the lead-up to the forthcoming Asia Pacific Economic Co-operation meetings in Sydney in September 2007. Blue Luminary follows another joint exercise conducted on Sydney Harbour in May this year. Known as Neptune's Treasure it involved more than 250 NSW Police, other Emergency Services personnel, members of the Australian Defence Force and Sydney Ferries staff. It required our tactical operations personnel to board and to recapture multiple vessels simultaneously, rescuing more than 100 hostages. The House will also remember that the honourable member for Davidson ridiculed that operation until he found it was largely organised by the Commonwealth Government, a point that the Federal justice Minister rammed home at a press conference later that day.
The Government has boosted the budget of NSW Police by $2 million to fund the Counter Terrorism Command Centre and, in addition, $14 million on new equipment, including helicopter for counter-terrorist response, bomb containment vessel, and three bomb disposal robots. It is essential that we continue to fund and provide resources to police for that. Exercises like Neptune's Treasure and Blue Luminary are essential if we are to constantly refine our tactical capability and response capability to terrorism. The Government is fully committed to securing our community and critical infrastructure from criminals and terrorists. In one sense, the job of being prepared to deal with terrorism will never end. We have made good progress but there is always much more to do. The nature of terrorism changes rapidly, and that is why we must remain ever vigilant in the threat of terrorism. We will ensure that its police have the powers, resources and equipment—and will participate in joint ventures with our colleagues in the Commonwealth—to continue to test its preparedness and capability to secure the citizens of this State.