An awful, devastating tragedy occurred last Monday at around 10:30 pm in Manchester, the United Kingdom. A bomb exploded outside of the Manchester Arena at an after party event for US pop star, Ariana Grande’s concert. Twenty-two people have been confirmed dead and more than fifty injured. This terrorist attack has incited fear across the world, as many people are concerned about the likelihood of a terrorist attack in their home country.
This article will look at how likely it is that Australia will be attacked by a terrorist attack and what strategies can be implemented to reduce the risk of one. According to an Australian National University poll in 2016, more than 50% of adults believe that Australia is a target for terrorism.
Australia uses a scale of five levels to indicate the likelihood of a terrorist attack. This scale is coordinated by The National Security Advisory System in the Attorney General’s Department. Currently, the scale is set to the middle point. A probable rating proposes that the public should continue to exercise caution. It indicates that intelligence information gathered concerning terrorism suggests that individuals and groups continue to contain the intent and capability to conduct a terrorist attack. The National Security Advisory System have highlighted the violent ideology of Sunni Islamist terrorist groups, Islamic States (IS) and Al-Qa’ida, as representing a small number of Islamist extremists, who are the primary terrorist threats. If an attack was to occur, it is most likely to be somewhere with the symbolic appeal (i.e. Sydney Opera House or Parliament House) or a public place.
However, Australia has a strong counter-terrorism security framework to manage threats. According to the National Security Advisory System, the Australian Government has five main mechanisms to counteract terrorist threats including the National Security Hotline, laws to combat terrorism, the Australia-New Zealand Counter-Terrorism Committee, National Security Agencies, and States and Governments with roles and responses to act on terrorism.
Additionally, the Federal Government, under Malcolm Turnbull, has undertaken significant measures to reduce the threat posed by terrorism. The Turnbull Government in the 2017-18 budget is increasing its funding towards defence, to enhance Australia’s protection measures and intelligence capabilities. Australia’s overseas secret intelligence collection agency, the Australian Secret Intelligence Service, is being supplemented with AUD$75 million. Australia’s national security advice organisation, the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO), is also receiving a similar level of increased funding. The Australian Federal Police (AFP) will also receive an additional $321 million over the next four years until 2020.
Compared to the rest of the Western world, the risk of terrorism in Australia is relatively low. Since 2000 Australia has had 3 deaths caused by terrorism. According to the Global Terrorism Index (2016), Australia is the 59th most impacted country by terrorism. The State Police Departments across Australia together revealed in 2016, that 15 terrorist attacks could have unfolded if police had not foiled the plans at their advanced stages. The increase in expenditure on these areas will further strengthen the policing of terrorists into the future. All in all, Australia is well equipped with the appropriate resources, agencies and intelligence, to fight against terrorism.
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