Australia’s counter-terrorism and counter-intelligence operations will get a funding injection of more than half a billion dollars in federal budget. The $570m boost includes packages for the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (Asio) and the Australian federal police, and will fund programs such as anti-drone technology for the police.
The funds would also be used to bolster intelligence-gathering in war zones, investigations into foreign fighters wanting to return to Australia, and artificial intelligence technology for Asio. The federal police will receive the bulk of the money, getting an additional $512m.
“The terrorist threat to Australia remains at probable, cyber-threats are unrelenting and increasing, and there are new and emerging national security challenges,” the home affairs minister, Peter Dutton, said in a statement. “The AFP is now conducting seven times more counter-terrorism operations and monitoring eight times the number of people of interest than it did five years ago.”
Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the security funding increase was not related to the Christchurch mosque massacre but in recognition of “the growing threat of extremist terrorism in so many different forms”. “Remember, we have thwarted 15 terror attacks in Australia, and we need to make sure that our authorities have the resources to keep doing that,” he said.