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Is Terrorism Still the Most Important Security Issue for Australia? Essay

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Updated: Dec 21st, 2021


Terrorism is defined as the act of inflicting fear on a mass of people with possible attacks. The main aim of terrorism is to have a following or the surrender of a mass of people. An attack on only one individual is not regarded as terrorism. There are various definitions that can define the word, and for this paper, terrorism will include acts that have caused the death of the attacker’s target, fears inflicted on people and the goal of terrorism won’t be restricted to mass mobilization but will involve other aspects.

According to Howard (2006), Australia is at the forefront in fighting terrorism in its borders and beyond, in the speech that he gave regarding security at the ASPI global forces 2006 conference he noted that the country’s security department is prepared enough to fight terrorism. The country has collaborated with other countries to man the borders, from the sea to the air. Notably, the fight and the need to be alert about the threat of terrorism was triggered by the September 11, 2001, United States attack. In many ways, it seems ironic that the US was attacked as it is an advanced country with access to the best technology to enable better intelligence collection.

Needless to say, other countries were cautioned and security measures were put in place (Beeson and Bellamy, 2003). The most recent terrorist attack in Australia was in 2006, which came from the interlocking networks of terror, arms proliferation, and fundamentalist ideology. In his speech, Prime Minister John Howard noted that the Islamic religion is causing a lot of danger and threats of terrorism, and he added that they are one of us and there is a need to accommodate them but be careful enough. He said that “For Australia, Iraq and Afghanistan are both vital battlegrounds in the fight against terrorism.

Australia’s engagement in these theatres – and in the Middle East more generally – is important in protecting our interests and keeping Australia secure. Australian forces are in southern Iraq helping to secure the foundations of a viable, democratic future. The handing back of Al Muthanna province to Iraqi security forces in July this year was due in no small measure to the courage and hard work of the Australian Defense Force” (Haward,2006:02).

The attack that has remained to be the one that has caused the greatest harm was the Bali Bombing that resulted in 202 deaths and more than 240 injuries. The government has the mandate to protect its citizen against these attacks, but many are the times that the security issues take center stage at the expense of other equally important issues. This report will analyze the strategies that Australia has put in place to curb terrorism. In addition, this report explains why the prevention of terrorist attacks should not be the only concern. (Howard, 2006: 3).

Measures Put in Place

Computerization of the War against Terrorism

Australia has embarked on highly integrating the war against terrorism with other countries by the use of technology, specifically computers. This has enabled the free and reliable sharing of information and intelligence about probable attacks. The system that is in use now is called Saab’s Widely Integrated Systems Environment (WISE). It is a system that can access databases of other countries and use such information to develop counter-terrorism strategies (Rudd, 2009:2).

As long as there has been this high level of computerization, that is yielding results, there are concerns that the same has not been done in the local arena. Teenagers are continually getting access to drugs, sexual violence is on the rise and human trafficking in Australia is still going on. The government has focused more on the fight against terrorism at the expense of the citizens.

War Equipment

Australia has invested heavily by purchasing state of art equipment. Such equipment includes all-terrain motor vehicles that maintain their functions throughout challenging landscape; war jets equipped with sensors that have the capability to detect explosives from a distance including the capability to deactivate such explosives. In addition, the counter-terrorism budget includes improved bomb detectors, highly trained sniffer dogs, technologically advanced weapons, and increased military training. Notably, the government spending budget has increased to sustain the increase in counter-terrorism equipment.

The security budget is expected to grow at the rate of 3% every year. It is estimated that by the year 2015/2016, the country will spend $26 billion on counter-terrorism and defense. Other plans have already been billion on counter-terrorism and defense. Other plans have already been to the number of millions. As much as the weapons are available for use by the local police, much effort is targeted to benefit the fight against terrorism.

Collaboration with Others

Australia has entered into collaborations with other regional and international agencies and countries to join efforts and fight terrorism. For instance, it has joined efforts with the United States of America to dialogue with Muslim countries to stop the terrorist attacks. It also has developed a working relationship with, Indonesia, the world’s largest Muslim country to fight against terrorism (Downer, 2002). Australia encourages the involvement of other countries as it recognizes that this fight against terror can only be won by collaboration and other nonviolent interventions. Dialogue is also another tool that the country has embarked upon.

In unification, the dialogue efforts are joined with countries such China, Japan, and India with the Middle East. In the efforts to make sure that the country is not attacked by the developing countries, there has been collaboration with the developing countries to train them on the ways to fight the vise. Such countries include Kenya and South Africa. In the recent attacks of terrorism that involve the Somali’s high jacking ships in the ocean, the country has been at the forefront to start negotiations on these attacks. Soldiers from the developing countries get a chance to go train with the Australian ones and this is fully on the support of the government funds (Lyon and Davies 2009).

Intelligence Gathering Team

The government has deployed crime experts in and outside its boundaries. These are supposed to collect data and gather intelligence (Kelly, 2009). The crime experts are not permanently stationed in a certain country but can be deployed somewhere in case of any available intelligence. It is also important to recognize the effort that the country has embarked on in training the immigration officers on the need to protect the boundaries against the entry of terrorists.

Different ranks undergo specialized training according to the level of risk in their areas. In the entry points both in the ports and motor/ foot entry points; the high intelligence team has been deployed and gathers information from those people entering the nation and those leaving the country. Before one is admitted to Australia, his /her documents are thoroughly inspected to ensure that no terrorist islet beyond this point (Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, 2004).

Patrols in the high seas are also conducted both during the day and night. This is in the effort to stop terror attacks at the earliest time possible. These patrols are comprised of the customs officers, the high intelligence teams, and the police. They are armed enough to face a situation of terror (Rudd, 2010). The above measures have been successful. There are concerns about the above-mentioned patrols since the attack of 2002 was successful when they were still being conducted. Ironically again the attack of 2002 came at the time that the United States attack was fresh in mind; it is expected that security should have been at its best at this time.

There is a growing market of drugs in the country yet the police are having difficulties arresting the offenders. They do not have adequate intelligence of the cartels that sell the drugs, yet there is intelligence on terrorism. What the country has done is to focus more on international matters and left the citizens suffering. Drug dens are breeding places for offenders. If Australia starts the fight for terrorism from these dens, the outcome would favor the country in two ways.

The above are among the measures that have been taken by Australia in her efforts to fight against terrorism, it is worth noting that all the above is financed by government funds. The government gets its fund from the people through taxes; so in case of any increase in the expenditure, it is the common man who suffers. The budget of the security has the greatest portion in the country at about 8% of the total budget and as noted earlier it is expected to grow at a rate of 3% each year and it will approximately reach $26billions in 2015/2016. There is no other source of funds that the government has employed other than the public.

Now we come to the subject of the discussion; are there no other areas that have been forsaken because of the big-budget of the security? Have the concerns about terrorism overshadowed the local security measures? Are the amounts spent worth it? Is the common man overburdened by this expense? Let us look at some areas that the country should consider investing in more than having the full focus on the terrorism attack;

The Local Crime Rate

The local security has been overshadowed by this mind of the international terrorism concern. There are increasing crimes in Australia that the police have not been able to avoid effectively. The rate of police ratio to citizens stands at 2.09293 per 1,000 people. This number cannot protect the population adequately. The crime includes; murder, car stealing cases, bank forgery, drug trafficking, sexual assaults and money counterfeiting.

These are crimes that the police can protect the country if they were given the support that they require. The focus on terrorism has left the country with a threatened future. The focus has been so much that there are no plans to grow the budget of the country’s internal security. This has left the citizens at the expense of the local criminals. The number of murders that happened in 2007 (which is the lowest recorded since 1993) stood at 230 (Australian Institute of Criminology, 2010).

This is a very huge figure when compared with the number of deaths by terror attacks. The military should not be given the full focus at the expense of the local man. As much as in case of an attack the lives lost may be high, the small rates of death through local crime are higher. The police should be empowered to protect the common man against local criminals (Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet, 2004).

Economic Situation

The globe is now recovering from the world economic crisis that hit the world at the end of 2007. Countries are suffering and Australia is not an exemption. Australia has experienced a reduction in foreign income and trade with other countries. As much as the country would like to have peaceful borders and assisting the developing countries to build more security features, I feel that what the developing countries need now is a boost in their economy so as they can feed the population. The deaths that are a result of hunger and malnutrition in these countries take the first priority in their development.


Although the country has a good medical system, there are some diseases that have remained a threat to her citizen. Some have killed several people, and others made the lives of citizens miserable. Such diseases include; cancer, obesity, diabetes and chronic diseases. They are diseases that can be effectively controlled, however, not many campaigns have been implemented to address them. (Health Grades Inc, 2010).


The government has the responsibility of protecting its citizens against the local crimes and threats of terrorism. With these two mandates to fulfill, then it should ensure that a balance is reached. The resources allocation should not be a target to one area at the expense of the others. The underlying factors that lead to acts of terrorism in a country should be adequately addressed. These factors include addressing drug and human trafficking. On the other hand, the fight cannot be won by a single country but collaboration among countries is wanted. The international agencies should also join in this effort.


It is important for a country to put adequate measures to protect its citizens against any form of a terrorist attack. Australia has put measures to ensure that her city is well protected, these measures as discussed above are both within the boundary and also outside the boundaries. It has also collaborated with other countries in this act, as well as enforcing the developing country to assist them not to be vulnerable. As much as this is important, a balance needs to be stricken that will ensure that the campaigns and investment have not been done at the expense of the common man. The budget should be sensible and easy to handle.

It should also aim at assisting the developing countries to become reliable and they will curb terrorism by themselves. This is not a one-country game and measures should be put in place for quick detection of substances at the earliest point of attack; physicians should develop modern detection facilities to assist in the fight. Countries should sign and abide by international conventions that discourage terrorism.

Reference List

Australian Institute of Criminology, (2010) Homicide statistics. Web.

Beeson, M. and Bellamy A. (2003) “Globalization, Security and International Order After 11 September”, Australian Journal of Politics and History, 49(3), pp. 339-354.

Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (2004) Transnational Terrorism: the Threat to Australia, Canberra. Web.

Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet (2004) Protecting Australia against Terrorism, Canberra.

Downer, A. (2002) “Security Policy in the Asia-Pacific New Challenges, Enduring Interests”, Speech at the 38th Munich Conference on Security Policy, Munich. Web.

Health Grades Inc. (2010) Australia: Travel Health. Web.

Howard, J. (2006) “Australia’s Security”, Address to the ASPI Global Forces 2006 Conference Agenda, Canberra. Web.

Kelly, P. (2009) “PM Must Think Like a War Leader”, the Australian. Web.

Lyon, R. and A. Davies (2009) “Assessing the Defense White Paper 2009”, Policy Analysis, ASPI. Web.

Rudd, K. (2009) Speech at the launch of the Defense White Paper Garden Island. Web.

Rudd, K. (2010) Transcript of Joint Press Conference, Parliament House: Canberra.

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