Australia has been largely free of domestic and imported terrorism in the past and still does not face the level of threat experienced by states in North America and Western Europe.1 However, there is little question that the country’s overall risk profile has been substantially heightened as a result of former Prime Minister John Howard’s close alliance with the United States and his government’s decision to host, lead, or support the following prominent international events: the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney; the 2002 Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Brisbane; the 1999–2000 International Force for East Timor intervention,2 which generated enormous opposition throughout Indonesia and the wider Muslim world, not least because it was instrumental in creating an independent Catholic state out of the world’s largest Islamic polity; and the post-9/11 war against al Qaeda.3 At the same time, globalization and increased volumes of cross-border movements of people, money, and commodities have rendered redundant the traditional defense afforded to the country by its geography.4
1 To date, the most significant act of Australian domestic terrorism in Australia (that is, an act carried out in Australia by an Australian national) was the 1978 bombing of the Sydney Hilton Hotel, which left three people dead and eight injured.
2 For an overview of Australia’s role in this intervention, see Chalk, 2001.
3 Along with the UK, Australia has been the most forceful proponent of the United States’ post–9/11 war against terrorism.
4 Author telephone interviews, June 2007 and October 2007 (see also PM&C, 2006, pp. 7–9, and Grono, 2004).