WA Police fear they would be unable to use sweeping powers to respond swiftly to terrorist attacks because of constrictive definitions within the State's emergency management protocols.
The concerns are raised in a review of the Emergency Management Act tabled this month in Parliament, which notes that police can only access the powers if the motives of those carrying out the attack are immediately clear.
"Terrorist attack" is a scheduled hazard under the Act and is defined under the Criminal Code as an action done to advance a religious, political or ideological cause and to influence or coerce a government or the public.
Extraordinary powers under the Act include directing the movement of people or vehicles, breaking into, searching and destroying properties or vehicles, cutting off gas, electricity or water supplies and any tunnelling or earthworks deemed necessary.
The review, prepared for the Government by the high-level inter-agency State Emergency Management Committee, recommended the Act be amended so a hazard need only be "reasonably suspected" to trigger a response.
Former State protection squad chief David Parkinson urged the Government to adopt the recommendation.
The retired police officer, who co-ordinated security arrangements for visits to Perth by Pope John Paul, the Queen, Prince Charles and Archbishop Desmond Tutu, said time was crucial in responding to threats.
"If someone places a bomb at the airport it could have been for political reasons or to blow their wife up," Mr Parkinson said.
"You may not know for days, but police want to invoke laws to stop, search and detain, cordon off areas and declare zones immediately."
Emergency Services Minister Joe Francis said he would take on board all recommendations.
"As with most report recommendations, if they are worthwhile and sensible, the Government tends to adopt them," Mr Francis said.