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



Rocky mum leaves region to get away from drug past

court

Mother of four in court for supplying meth

BREAKING: 'Sad reality' Smelter to cut jobs after power price hike

IN A response to The Observer, Boyne Smelter general manager Joe Rea has labelled the need to cut jobs at the company a "sad reality" due to the hike in power prices.

BSL will be cutting jobs after a power price hike

Local Partners

Jess ready to fire as Heat chases finals berth

Rockhampton's Jess Jonassen is hoping to get among the runs in the Brisbane Heat's must-win double header against the Adelaide Strikers.


New Year New Yard

Win $1000 Bunnings Voucher
Learn More

WHAT'S ON: Your guide to events in CQ this weekend

Aussie Shakespeare is a frenetic and good-humoured canter combining classic Shakespearean stories and characters with Australian themes from cyclones to football to the revolving door of federal politics.

Everything you need to know about events in the region

Excitement builds over Da Vinci exhibition

Exhibition features in excess of 60 models of machines

Puppetry of the Penis secrets revealed ahead of show

The famed Puppetry of the Penis is coming to the Sunshine Coast for shows in Noosa and Caloundra.

WARNING: This interview contains adult themes and traces of nuts

Ocean Sleeper discuss being 'Six Feet Down'.

Ocean Sleeper make waves with their new EP. Photo Contributed

Gippsland band shines at Unify

Bowie's final music EP No Plan released

NEW: Artwork for David Bowie's posthumous 2016 EP, No Plan.

David Bowie's 28th and final album

Married At First Sight: Ipswich bachelor seeks love

READY FOR IT: Ipswich man Simon McQuillan will appear on the upcoming new season of Married At First Sight.

Romance would top off recovery for Booval man

Dinky-di Denyer: Family Feud favourite hosts Oz Day party

Grant Denyer will host Channel 10's Australia Day concert from the Sydney Opera House.

GRANT Denyer shares his Australia Day traditions ahead of concert.

Chelsea Handler blames the Kardashians for Donald Trump win

Chelsea Handler pictured in a scene from her talk show in Los Angeles.

TALK show host blames rise of reality TV family for election result.

Law & Order’s Trump inspired episode is still in limbo

The cast of Law & Order: SVU season 18, from left, Kelli Giddish, Raul Esparza, Mariska Hargitay, Ice-T and Peter Scanavino. Supplied by Channel 10.

SHOW'S mastermind unsure if or when twice-delayed episode will air.

Collapsed Coast company could owe up to $5 million

Staff, ATO, landlords among those out of pocket.

Ipswich block of dirt sells for $582 a square metre

JUST SOLD: A property on the Brookwater golf course sold for a record-breaking $612,000.

Property smashed 2007 record by close to $100,000

Sunday auction for historical home

Former Catholic school sure to attract spirited bidding

Looking back, looking ahead in Noosa

NEVER-ENDING GLORY: Looking towards Laguna Bay and Hastings St from Noosa National Park.

Natural appeal of Noosa continues to attract buyers

Thousands of jobs part of $1b retirement village project

THIS YEAR: An artist impression of the new Aveo retirement village in Springfield.

Aveo Springfield unveiled this month, homes ready by July

Ready to SELL your property?

Post Your Ad Here!