Apathy and cynicism were real problems in Australia, brought on by the ‘downsides’ of the Haneef fiasco over intelligence in policing agences, the Attorney-General warns. He lists three areas where Australia can improve: none involves more draconian anti-terror laws.
How the Attorney-General evaluates the terrorist threat in Australia:
Philip Clark: Do you think the chance of a terror attack in Australia is greater now (April 2008) than it was two years ago?
Attorney-General Robert McClelland: It’s foolish to be complacent. The threat level has stayed on medium throughout that period which means that an attack is certainly feasible and possible and I think that was probably the case two years ago and probably the case now.
Philip Clark: Oh, I suppose I asked the question because I just wondered whether…you’re talking about an increased threat or perhaps a diminishing threat.
Attorney-General McClelland: I think it would be foolish to assume the threat (of a terror attack in Australia) is diminishing and one of the real difficulties in dealing with this is apathy in the community or indeed cynicism regarding the efforts of the intelligence in policing agencies: that was one of the downsides of the Haneef investigation. I think it created, and we’ve got to be careful it doesn’t create, an unhealthy cynicism in the community.
There is unquestionably a risk of terrorism, it’s in Australia, it’s moderate, it’s certainly less than that which exists in Great Britain but nonetheless it’s important to maintain and ensure that our systems are working as effectively as they can.
The areas we can improve are…counter-radicalisation, improving communication to achieve prosecutions, and improving interaction at street law enforcement intelligence functions.
I think if we get those three areas right we’ll be doing everything we possibly can to make terrorism past tense rather than what unquestionably is currently a moderate threat.
em>– extract from an interview with Philip Clark, 2GB radio, 5.15pm, 11 Apr 08