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Remarks at opening of new AFP Forensics Facility Canberra

Well Dr Walsh thank you very much, Commissioner Colvin, Michael Keenan my colleague the Minister for Justice, officers of the Australian Federal Police and other security agencies, friends all here.

I am delighted to be here with the Minister and the Commissioner to open the AFP’s new state-of- the-art forensic facility which will be one of the most advanced of its kind in the world. This new centre will bring together more than 200 experts in digital forensics, weapons intelligence, fingerprint and facial identification, and biological and chemical criminalistics to enhance our national investigative and forensic capability.

Our law enforcement and intelligence agencies upon whom we depend for our safety, your efforts and those of your colleagues 24 hours a day, seven days a week, across the country and indeed working with our partners across the world are keeping us safe and we thank you for that. But you need to have the most accurate information, the finest forensic and investigative support, to respond to threats to our national security.

We know that these threats are very complex – they are enduring, they are fluid. Modern technologies, as the Minister has described have created unprecedented opportunities but they have also enabled organised crime to expand its reach globally and inject itself into any part of the world and expand well beyond its traditional business models.

Our enemies, whether they are organised criminals who seek to do us harm in Australia, whether they are people smugglers in our region, or terrorists in the Middle East and throughout the world, or people influenced by terrorist ideology here in Australia are very, very agile.  Recent terrorist events internationally – Paris, Turkey and the United States – highlight that the global threat environment is becoming more challenging.

The AFP is globally renowned for its forensic expertise, most notably for the collaboration with Indonesian police following the bombing in Bali and more recently for the coordination and leadership role that the AFP took following the downing of flight MH17 that the Commissioner and the Minister referred to.

Working with international and Australian partners, the AFP helped to ensure victims were identified and recovered. It was vitally important work – important for our nation’s effort in national security as an effort driven and inspired by love and compassion.

We spoke about the God of justice and love – that is important. The work you do, all of you, the men and women of the Australian Federal Police is inspired by the love of this nation and a passionate determination to keep all Australians safe.

Now this new $106 million facility replaces as we have heard the outdated Weston Forensic Centre and it sets a new global benchmark.

The work done here will help us to understand and prevent and deter the full range of serious crimes including terrorism. Material seized from counter-terrorism operations will pass through this facility and will be analysed here so that you and your partner agencies can learn the lessons from that which will enable you better to secure us.

The facility will enable the AFP to maintain, improve and expand its forensic and intelligence service capability, including enhanced counter-terrorism and rapid response, firearms identification, crime scene investigation and biometrics matching.

It demonstrates the Commonwealth’s commitment to ensuring the AFP’s specialist forensics capabilities are well-positioned to respond and disrupt criminal activity and threats to our nation’s security.

This facility is a prime example of my Government’s determination to harness technology and promote innovation in every aspect of our national life. This centre epitomises, it embodies a culture of innovation and collaboration.

We have to be more agile than our enemies. We have to move faster than our enemies. We have to embrace and understand and deploy new technologies faster and better than those that seek to do us harm. And the technologies here and the intellects gathered under this roof will enable the AFP to do just that.

Our law enforcement agencies, our intelligent services are the best in the world. They are committed to keeping us safe – every day, every night, 24-7. And I can say this that my Government will continue with a sense of relentless dedication to deliver the resources, the support that our security services and our intelligence services need to keep us safe.

Physical resources like this, legislative resources in terms of the new legislation that the Attorney and I spoke about last week, we will be as tireless as you are in supporting you to keep our nation safe.

Thank you for your service and I am honoured to be here to open this new facility.

By Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull

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