Australian police handed more military weaponry
30 December 2017
Police in Australia’s most populous state, New South Wales (NSW), have extended the use of military assault rifles. The Public Order and Riot Squad (PORS) will carry these weapons for the first time during the Christmas-New Year period in the state’s capital, Sydney.
At a media conference in Sydney on December 18, Police Commissioner Mick Fuller, commander of the 16,000-strong state police force, said 47 PORS officers had completed training with Colt M-4 carbines. Another 100 would be trained by the middle of next year.
The expanded access to M-4s will double the number of police with military-standard weaponry, previously issued only to smaller tactical units for alleged terrorism, hostage, siege and serious armed offender incidents. All NSW police are armed with pistols on duty.
Fuller claimed that the extension was necessary because of the increased threat of terrorism. He stated that while the federal government’s terrorism threat level had remained “probable” since September 2014, he needed to put the more heavily armed police onto the streets if, and as soon as, the threat level was raised to high.
This claim is false and misleading. The PORS is specifically tasked with suppressing protests and social disturbances, not terrorism.
The PORS was formed in October 2005 after confrontations between police and working-class youth in two of Sydney’s most impoverished areas—the inner suburb of Redfern, with a large Aboriginal population, in March 2004, and the western suburb of Macquarie Fields in February 2005. The clashes followed police chases of youth that resulted in their deaths—Thomas Hickey in Redfern and Dylan Raywood and Matthew Robertson in Macquarie Fields.