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.

Heatwave to continue for days as temps top 40 in some areas

Beachgoers cool down at Surfers Paradise on the Gold Coast. Temperatures have hit 46 degrees Celsius in parts of outback Queensland today, with a heatwave predicted for the state's central and southern regions.(AAP Image/Dan Peled)

Outback towns scorching under the Friday afternoon sun

Police reveal gender of discovered corpse

Police are investigating the discovery of human remains at Glen Aplin.

Police reveal startling information about corpse found by public

Where to get the cheapest mangoes in Warwick

JUICY DEAL: Trish Wedlock is selling the cheapest mangoes in town.

Tis the season to gorge on mangoes.

Local Partners

Smart new app for learner drivers

A BRAND new smartphone app could make getting a licence a lot safer and easier for learner drivers across the nation.


Creekside Carols are all set to thrill Allora crowd

Chad Wilson, Sarah and Stacey Turner, Greta Barton and Jo Denny at the Allora's Creekside Carols under the Stars   



Photo Deanna Millard / Daily News

ALLORA'S Creekside Carols are on tomorrow night

Events you need to be at this week...

Warwick Volleyball Ladies grand finalists Grinners (back, from left) Lisa Bergemann, Rachel King and Allyne Waters (front) Awesome team members Emma Lowe, Lydia Wallace and Mandy Aspinall after the first season finals this year.

Touch, volleyball and cricket have major events in the next week

Mitchell Shield between Warwick and Stanthorpe

LOCAL DERBY: Stanthorpe captain Ben Staley with the Hendry Bourke Trophy for cricket supremacy between Warwick and Stanthorpe after a victory at Slade Park two years ago.

Warwick will host Stanthorpe in local derbies

Ricky Gervais announces first dates of world tour

Ricky Gervais has announced his first world tour in seven years.

Johnny Depp and Amber Heard in 'final stages' of divorce

Depp's outstanding divorce money to be paid over 15 months

Mila Kunis and Ashton Kutcher welcome their second child

Mila Kunis won't be naming her second child 'Hawkeye'

First look at Russell Crowe and Tom Cruise in The Mummy

Russell Crowe in a scene from the first teaser trailer for the movie The Mummy.

HOLLYWOOD heavyweights helm serious reboot of action franchise.

Joseph Gordon-Levitt: Fame is 'unhealthy'

Joseph Gordon-Levitt

Joseph Gordon-Levitt feels bad perpetuating celebrity culture

Man who played Manuel in Fawlty Towers has died, aged 86

Manuel from the comedy hit Fawlty Tours, has died aged 86

Evicted from their own land: red tape tangles up family's plans

HOME WOES: Carl Murray says his family was evicted from their own property.

Owning their own land wasn't the biggest hurdle for this family

Coast high-flyer's fight back from bankruptcy, $72m debt

Scott Juniper went from millionaire developer to declaring bankruptcy in2012, now he is back on top of his game again with new developments including this one in Coolum.

'Apocalyptic lending storm' causes financial collapse.

How your home can earn you big $$$$ this Christmas

This luxury Twin Waters home rents out over Christmas for more than $6000 a week.

Home owners earning thousands renting out their homes this Christmas

2000 jobs at multi-million dollar Ipswich project

INSIDE: Artist's impressions of the interior of the new Eastern Heights aged care precinct.

Sub-contractors needed to build $15m aged care facility

Ready to SELL your property?

Post Your Ad Here!