Aussie top cops new Army Reserve-style squad
A rapid response reserve squad of Australian Federal Police officers will be created, funding for spies boosted and a greater focus placed on combating white collar crime, all in a bid to ring proof the nation and its critical infrastructure from its enemies on the inside and out.
Based on the widely recognised Army Reserves program, the AFP will create a Reserve squad of 200 Reservist members to back up critical operations during surge periods.
Already the AFP has quietly recruited 50 former AFP members to bring them back on the law enforcement books part time, in readiness to launch the program and free up frontline full time colleagues.
The program is part of a significant $300 million boost to the AFP over four years, starting modestly with $10.8 million in 2020-21.
A Home Affairs official said it was recognised former officers had a skill set that could make them useful to enhance the AFP's surge capacity and maximise staffing levels and would be called upon as required.
The extra funding was to also go toward AFP's overall crime fighting capabilities including for new full time staff and resources and was in addition to the extra $500 million over five years the agency received in 2019. Funds would also go toward reform the services health services including establishing regional health hubs to support the health and wellbeing of staff with the AFP notably suffering a spate of suicides and PTSD issues.
Australia's spies were also winners with domestic and foreign agencies including ASIO and ASIS receiving $173.5 million over four years in additional funding "to strengthen the capacity of national security". The details of what that money is to be used for is kept secret due to national security but the government has repeatedly flagged the need to bolster security to counter foreign actor intrusions.
Specifically, the government has said in the past year particularly foreign State actors had become more active in everyday Australian life, attempting to exert influence through various means including via the tertiary education system, politics and ethnic communities.
In other law enforcement winners, the capacity of the Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre (AUSTRAC) to expose organised crime money laundering, including on an industrial scale via our Big Four banks notably Westpac and NAB, has been lifted.
The agency is to receive $105 million over four years from this year to combat serious financial crime including white collar fraud and better protect the nation's financial systems.
The funding will include the development of a new financial data reporting system to assist industry in meeting its reporting obligations, a significant issue for some banks in the last 12 months.
BOOST FOR WAR ON CYBER ATTACKS
The government will provide an additional $201.5 million to deliver on its 2020 Cyber Security strategy to counter cyber attacks on Australia's critical infrastructure by foreign State sponsored hackers and organised criminals.
The unexpected additional boost brings the government's cyber offensive initiative funding to $1.7 billion.
Among the funded programs will be to grow Australia's cyber security skills with long-term workforce planning to help keep the nation cyber safe and an expanded outreach program to Australian industry to reinforce the importance of maintaining online security.
The new moneys are to be shared among various agencies and departments including Home Affairs, the Australian Signals Directorate, the AFP and the Department of Industry, Science, Energy and Resources.
"The Morrison Government is committed to protecting Australia's critical infrastructure to secure the essential services all Australians rely on - everything from electricity and water, to healthcare and groceries," Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton said.
"Included as part of the funding allocated to the 2020 Cyber Security Strategy, $8.3 million will be used towards improving the security and resilience of critical infrastructure entities across various sectors crucial to protect our economy, security, and sovereignty."
EMBASSIES GET $55.5M SECURITY UPGRADE
Blast proof windows, "hardened" external perimeters and security cameras set for Australia's overseas embassies this year is a compelling example of our increasingly threatening global strategic outlook.
The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade will make a $55.5 million investment in upgrading security for our diplomatic posts including to buildings but also with sustainment of armoured cars, increasing security personnel postings and sweeping security reviews.
At least $16.3 million is new moneys the department received this year with the remainder coming from reappropriated departmental funding.
The measures include the security for embassies, consulates and official diplomatic residencies around the world, particularly in this Asia region.
For security reasons, the locations cannot be revealed but the upgrade is to be carried out over the next four years.
"This investment will help protect Australian Government staff, as well as Australians who visit our overseas missions for consular and passport assistance," Foreign Minister Marise Payne said.
There was no one particular incident that prompted the upgrade measures but was reflective of the overall evolving geopolitical landscape.
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Originally published as Aussie top cops new Army Reserve-style squad