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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2010 Week 09 Hansard (Tuesday, 24 August 2010) . . Page.. 3793 ..

Mercury 10—counter-terrorism exercise

MR HARGREAVES: My question is to the Attorney-General. Minister, can you please advise the Assembly about the important counter-terrorism exercise taking place in the ACT today and what benefits it will have for ACT government agencies and local emergency services?

MR CORBELL: I thank Mr Hargreaves for the question. Today the ACT is participating in a multi-jurisdictional counter-terrorism exercise known as Mercury 10. Mercury 10 involves a large number of jurisdictions, including the ACT, Victoria, Tasmania, South Australia and the Northern Territory, as well as relevant government agencies and New Zealand. Mercury 10 is funded through the auspices of the national counter-terrorism committee, auspiced by the commonwealth.

Opposition members interjecting—

MR CORBELL: It is not a joke. In the event of a serious terrorist incident, Canberra is not immune and Canberra could face the prospect of terrorist activity should terrorists choose to use high-profile targets in the national capital to further their cause.

For that reason, the ACT is intensely involved in this exercise. The exercise is designed to evaluate whole-of-government, high-level decision making between participating governments and within them. It is also designed to test the accurate deployment of our police and emergency services and will also involve the operational deployment of the Australian Defence Force to resolve a terrorist-related incident in the ACT.

It is a very important test for our emergency services. Steps have been taken to ensure that the existing operational capacity of our police and emergency services is not compromised during the exercise period which will run on the ground today and tomorrow. Rostering arrangements have been put in place to ensure that normal operational response is maintained and that there is no compromising of that to respond to calls for assistance and help from the Canberra community during the exercise period.

What is particularly valuable about this is that it allows our emergency services to work together. It allows them to test operational response on the ground, through things such as forward command, communications, logistics and control. This is valuable regardless of whether or not our emergency services ever have to face this type of terrorist-related incident into the future.

It is equally valuable in terms of their on-the-ground deployment should they have to face other large-scale emergencies. It allows them to test how they work together, how they coordinate their activities, and it also allows the government to test its whole-of-administration arrangements, particularly in terms of public information and coordination, recovery and a range of other relationships and activities that do need to be tested from time to time.

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