Photo: Max Mason Hubers
The terrorist threat against Australia's key military bases has diminished, according to the Defence Department.
The department says a new "security risk assessment" means that it needs fewer specialised guards around the nation's army, navy and air force bases.
The Canberra Times revealed on Wednesday that up to 110 of the 500 specialised Protective Services Officers supplied by the AFP to the military could lose their jobs as the cash-strapped Defence Department looks to slash the size of the force.
But Defence's "MediaOps" unit said on Wednesday afternoon that the operational changes were in response to a diminished threat level, not a desire to cut costs.
News of the proposed cuts came on the day three Melbourne men involved in a terrorist plot in 2009 to attack the Holsworthy Army Barracks in Sydney lost their appeal against their convictions and sentences.
Holsworthy is one of the bases affected by the cuts to the protection force, along with the navy's Garden Island base, Victoria Barracks in Melbourne and the army's officer training college at Duntroon in Canberra.
"Defence has advised the AFP that following a security risk assessment it has a reduced requirement for AFP Protective Service Officers on Defence sites and establishments," the department said in a statement on Wednesday.
"Security is a continuing high priority for Defence with base security adjusted as necessary based on intelligence from national and state security and policing agencies."
The level of anti-terrorist protection for the nation's federal politicians at Canberra's Parliament House is also under review.
The Australian Federal Police, which provides the guards to patrol the building's perimeter, expects job losses but Parliamentary authorities say no decision has been made.
AFP Protective Services Officers, specially trained in anti-terrorist first response tactics as well as close protection work, patrol the building's exterior and extensive grounds while DPS officers are responsible for security inside the building.
But the contract between the Parliament and the AFP has expired and DPS has hired external experts to try to find savings after millions of dollars were spent on "physical" security upgrades around the building in the past two years.
A spokeswoman for Parliamentary Services confirmed a review was under way. "The Department of Parliamentary Services has had a contract in place for a number of years with the AFP for it to deliver certain security services at Parliament House," she said.
"DPS is currently undertaking a review of security arrangements for Parliament House for the 44th Parliament.
"As part of this process it has engaged an experienced consultant to provide independent advice on the nature and scale of external security requirements over the next three years.''
The spokeswoman said it was too early to make a decision on the number of guards needed to patrol the building.
"The AFP is being consulted as part of this process.
''No decision on the ongoing arrangements between DPS and the AFP will be made until the report has been considered," she said.