News

Why you don't need to fear terrorism at home in Australia

ACCORDING to an ANU poll, more than half of the country's adults are concerned Australia will be a target for terrorism at home and strongly believe the government needs to introduce greater preventive measures to combat it. But the reality is less alarming.

More Australians have died at the hands of police (lawfully or unlawfully) in ten years (50 at least from 2006 to 2015) or from domestic violence in just two years (more than 318 in 2014 and 2015) than from terrorist attacks in Australia in the last 20 years.

Although Australia's terrorism threat level is set at probable, the likelihood of an individual being killed or wounded from a terrorist attack in this country is extremely low.

Terrorist attacks in Australia have claimed the lives of only three victims in the last two decades.

Australian fears are necessarily shaped by memories of the 2002 Bali terrorist attacks in which 202 people, many of them Australian, were killed. Since Bali, terrorist attacks overseas have claimed the lives of more than 110 Australians.

Even taking the overseas deaths into account, Australians can afford to feel more secure at home.

NSW Police accountant Curtis Cheng. Cheng was shot dead outside NSW Police Headquarters in Parramatta, in Sydney's west on October 2, by 15-year-old gunman Farhad Jabar Khalil Mohammad, who was killed by officers responding to the shooting.
NSW Police accountant Curtis Cheng. Cheng was shot dead outside NSW Police Headquarters in Parramatta, in Sydney's west on October 2, by 15-year-old gunman Farhad Jabar Khalil Mohammad, who was killed by officers responding to the shooting. SUPPLIED

Police say they were able to successfully foil 11 terrorist plots and four terror attacks against the Australian public in the last two years.

Australian security services, supported by the public and community groups, have been very successful in monitoring the threats.

According to the government's 2015 review, the number of people in the country who have been prepared to commit terrorist acts here remains low.

The review found there had only been two terrorist attacks on Australian soil since 2001. NSW police accountant Curtis Cheng was killed by a teenager allegedly vowing allegiance to Islamic State in 2015.

Mother-of-three Katrina Dawson and Lindt cafe manager Tori Johnson were killed in the Martin Place siege in December 2014.

The most-serious terrorist plot in Australian history dates back to 2005, more than a decade ago, referred to most commonly as Operation Pendennis, the name of the joint police and ASIO operation that prevented any attacks.

According to an academic study, 22 men were charged with terrorism offences for planning or helping co-ordinate attacks in Melbourne and Sydney.

Lindt Chocolate Cafe manager Tori Johnson was killed during the siege, with unconfirmed reports suggesting he attempted to wrestle the gun from Man Haron Monis.
Lindt Chocolate Cafe manager Tori Johnson was killed during the siege, with unconfirmed reports suggesting he attempted to wrestle the gun from Man Haron Monis.

Of these, 18 were finally convicted. The success by our security services in thwarting these attacks may have deterred similar plots.

As my grandchildren left our hotel on Bastille Day in France this year for the fireworks, there was no denying I felt some concern about a possible terrorist attack. Luckily, the kids went to the Eiffel Tower, and not to the Promenade des Anglais in Nice where 84 people were killed and more than 100 injured.

I remain concerned about such attacks but am not afraid enough to consider preventing loved ones from travelling in Western countries.

Respondents to the 2016 ANU poll may have felt more fearful of an attack than usual because of the public debate that was circulating at the time. The poll was conducted during and just after the last federal election, in which Pauline Hanson was propagandising a link between all Muslims and terrorism.

The ANU poll was also conducted during the coroner's inquest into the Lindt Café siege, and just after the Orlando massacre in June. It also closely followed the prime minister's invitation of Muslim leaders to Kirribilli House, where Malcolm Turnbull mentioned the connection between the Muslim community and defence against terrorism.

Public opinion in Australia has an exaggerated view of the terrorist threat inside the country. As early as 2006, two Australian scholars put forward a "thought contagion theory" to explain this phenomenon. It suggests misleading ideas become commonly held beliefs after they are conveyed to many people.

 

EMOTIONAL OUTPOURING: Sydneysiders lay flowers near the Lindt Cafe in December last year.
EMOTIONAL OUTPOURING: Sydneysiders lay flowers near the Lindt Cafe in December last year. DAN Himbrechtsaap

The anxiety is often unnecessarily fuelled by politicians and journalists. One striking example was a warning from The Australian's Greg Sheridan in November 2015 that the Paris attacks can be viewed as part of a series of threats that may lead to the end of Western civilisation.

But the over-anxiety about terrorist attacks in Australia conforms to a more longstanding phenomenon of Australian insecurity and exaggeration of international threats in almost all quarters. It also comes from the exaggerated fear of becoming a victim of domestic crime.

In this environment of supercharged public anxiety about terrorist threats on Australian soil, opinion leaders in politics, the media and academia have a responsibility to not inflame them. The ANU poll might have framed some additional questions to speak to the excellent record of the security services at home and the relative safety they provide.

Greg Austin is a UNSW Australia Professor with the Australian Centre for Cyber Security.

This report appears courtesy of The Conversation

 

The Conversation

Topics:  editors picks terrorism the conversation



How to survive a bushfire in your car

IT SOUNDS like a nightmare, but it can happen.

Eight reasons to join the RFS

SPREAD across 93% of Queensland, the Rural Fire Service has about 36,000 volunteers. And you could be one of them.

What if my insurer gives me grief?

CLAIMING your insurance cover after a natural disaster can go one of two ways. It can be a breeze, or like pulling teeth.

REVEALED: The schools CQ students avoided in 2016

Marmor State School had the second highest school attendance in Central Queensland in 2016.

New statistics show why students were not at school

Investors flock to Rocky as Adani boom looms

Property, real estate, housing, suburb,  August 2016

Real estate agents notice spike in interest

Australia's growth rate shock sparks recession talk

Scott Morrison

Scott Morrison says more projects like Adani coal mine needed

Local Partners

Rogue One keeps Star Wars excitement alive

Felicity Jones in a scene from the movie Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.

GEORGE Lucas spin-off to hold fans over until Episode VIII.

MOVIE REVIEW: Bad Santa 2

Billy Bob Thornton and Brett Kelly in a scene from Bad Santa 2.

NAUGHTY Santa sequel falls flat.

Coldplay bathes Brisbane fans in sea of colour

Chris Martin, lead singer of British rock band Coldplay, performs at Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane. Coldplay are in Australia for a five-show tour. (AAP Image/Dan Peled)

Frontman Chris Martin drapes himself in Australian flag

Sia, Keith Urban top Aussie Grammy nominations

Nicole Kidman and Keith Urban at the 50th Annual Country Music Association (CMA) Awards

Beyonce dominates with nine nods for 2017 Grammy Awards

New gallery connects humanity and nature

One of Craig Parry's amazing images to be shown at the gallery.

Well known photographer to display one metre images

Hailey Baldwin: I don't understand Taylor Swift's squad

Hailey Baldwin has taken a quick stab at Taylor Swift and co.

Council opens up on 'secret' private development companies

Ipswich City Council Administration Building, South Street, Ipswich. Photo: Claudia Baxter / The Queensland Times

New website launched by Ipswich City Council

INSIDE STORY: The highlights of your $150 million CBD

GRAND PLAN: The highlights of the Ipswich CBD redevelopment and where they will be located.

Work on city heart's radical transformation to begin next year

Home sweet home in Gracemere

BIG HAPPY FAMILY: Kylie Whatman and Richard Ward  share the wide deck space with their pets Nala, Pip  and Sadie.

Couple move states to find their new slice of paradise

VOTE IN OUR POLL: Sand mine opponents face serious dilemma

Public meeting for the proposed sand mine at Maroochydore last week.

Coast MP calls on Minister to stop KRA proposal with stroke of a pen

Developer's grand new multi-million dollar estate

NEW ESTATE: This is the only plan revealed by the property developer's new Billabongs Estate in Agnes Water.

DEVELOPER given the go ahead for a massive estate with 149 homes.

Ready to SELL your property?

Post Your Ad Here!