Australian Federal Police Commissioner, Mr Tony Negus APM: Q&A session notes
· From a policing perspective, Australia has a relationship with Israel through their participation in the ‘Pearls in Policing’ group, which comprises 30 countries. Also, AFP representatives, including the Commissioner, have travelled to Israel to discuss various security programmes.
· There needs to be a balanced approach when dealing with security threats. The AFP takes such threats towards the Jewish community very seriously, although currently no specific threat exists. The overall threat level in Australia is Medium, and the AFP is responding accordingly.
· All Australians are encouraged to report suspicious behaviour—“Be alert not alarmed”. Such reports feed into the intelligence and is a great tool for law enforcement agencies. This is one of the reasons the AFP has been focussing on an educational campaign.
· The security agencies in Australia have been doing a very good job in Australia in dealing with terrorism-related issues. Most Australians would be unaware of most of these activities. The daily tasks of preventing terrorism are not really newsworthy, but of course when something does occur it features prominently. Security agencies, however, do not underestimate how difficult it is to continue to prevent terrorist incidents.
· Significant work is being undertaken in relation to monitoring activities of established radical and terrorist groups in the region. However, most concerning is the home-grown terrorism phenomenon. A radical individual or small (and unknown) group may proceed with limited constraints.
· Australia is not a base for a major terrorist group but the AFP remains vigilant. There have been some individuals involved in terrorist activities who have come from Lebanon and Somalia—these individuals have been prosecuted.
· The AFP is doing a lot to recruit a more diverse force to reflect the broader Australian community (including women and minority groups).
· The definition of terrorism in relation to the Australian Communications and Media Authority’s (ACMA) powers has been useful for the AFP who work closely with ACMA to take down offensive websites.
· Contrary to a commonly-held view, there was no power for the AFP to prevent the “Bali Nine” from leaving Australia to commit their crime. The AFP (and the Australian Government more broadly) is very careful about sharing information with countries that may impose the death penalty. New guidelines have been issued by the Attorney-General to cover this area.