On the advice of the relevant security and intelligence agencies the National Terrorism Public Alert level has been increased from medium to high. This means that the current situation in Australia has changed from medium – “terrorist attack could occur” to high- “terrorist attack is likely”.
This system is designed to guide national preparation and planning in the event of a terrorist incident occurring. The level of alert is regularly reviewed. Recent changes to the alert level were not due to one single event but due to the body of evidence which indicated that there was an increased likelihood of an incident occurring.
The Australian Government holds as its number one priority the safety of Australian citizens and residents. Keeping our community safe is absolutely paramount. Whilst the community should not be alarmed unnecessarily- it is important that the public be aware of possible threats.
Last week the Australian Federal Police conducted a number of raids across the country due to intelligence they had received about suspected terrorist activity. A number of arrests were made and charges have been laid. These will now be processed through the courts.
Following the raids it has become apparent that at least one Australian ISIL operative working overseas was issuing instruction for acts of violence to be committed against residents in Australia. Police and intelligence agencies acted decisively to disrupt these activities.
Prime Minister Tony Abbott has made the point that it is important for Australians to continue to go about their everyday lives. Terrorist activity is about scaring people out of their ordinary way of life. We can help to make a difference to the global situation but we must also work to continue Australia’s free and fair society at home.
The commitment of Australian defence resources will be used to assist with efforts to disrupt and degrade ISIL operations in Iraq. ADF personnel have been deployed in various capacities to Iraq and have the full backing of the Government.
ADF Personnel will work with our alliance partners in close coordination. Already Australia has provided air-lift assistance to the Iraqi Government including the movement of stores, arms and munitions. The ADF have also completed humanitarian aid drops containing water, high energy foods and hygiene kits. The assistance being provided by Australia is similar to that by other nations including Canada, Denmark, Italy, France and the United Kingdom.
Recent reports indicate that there are at least 60 Australians fighting with ISIL and another 100 supporting extremist activities. Australia does have a part to play in this situation not only to ease the humanitarian situation in the Middle East, but also to ensure our safety at home.
This fight is about the extremist threat represented by ISIL and other terrorist groups not about any particular religion. Australia must continue to be a free, fair and tolerant nation.