ANU experts respond to Prime Minister's National Security Statement

23 February 2015

Australia faces new kinds of security risks and thus it makes sense to consider new security measures that balance democratic rights with a sense of responsibility for the wider community.

NATIONAL SECURITY STATEMENT - ANU EXPERTS ALERT

Prime Minister Tony Abbott has delivered a National Security Statement outlining new measures to deal with counter terrorism threats.

Some of Australia's leadeing security policy experts discuss the statement and what it means for Australia.

Professor Rory Medcalf, Head of National Security College

“The Prime Minister’s national security statement needs to be assessed on its merits in terms of the national interests, and not simply in light of his political troubles. The fact is, Australia faces new kinds of security risks and thus it makes sense to consider new security measures that balance democratic rights with a sense of responsibility for the wider community.”

Professor William Maley, Professor of Diplomacy, Asia-Pacific College of Diplomacy

"The most important thing to avoid in response to politically-motivated violence is a panic-stricken response. In Australia for at least a decade, more than a thousand people have died every year in road accidents; do we hear calls to revoke the citizenship or suspend the citizenship rights of those responsible, or to force potential migrants or tourists to take driving tests?"

Dr Clarke Jones, Visiting Fellow, ANU College of Asia & the Pacific

“The additional window dressing measures, such as creating a new national security coordinator, tightening immigration even further, cutting welfare payments, and further strengthening legislative powers, are unlikely to make Australia more secure.

By potentially further eroding civil liberties and by paying lip service to the underlying causes of what drives people to seek connection to terrorist groups in the first instance, the new measures will make very little impact on Australia’s security. In reality, new measures may even go the other way and exasperate the underlying causes of violent extremism and further damage Australia’s already fragile social cohesion.”

Emeritus Professor Paul Dibb, Coral Bell School of Asia Pacific Affairs

“Russian expansionist ambitions are as big a threat to Western interests as the Islamic State.”

Dr Adam Henschke, Research Fellow, National Security College

"In his National Security Address, The Prime Minister asked "at what stage do we need to change the tipping point from protection of the individual to the safety of the community?" At its core this a question of ethics, how deeply we care about the values of individual freedoms and community security. Given that we are a community cares for both individual and group values , in order to ensure that the balance between these values is properly thought through, we need to understand when the Prime Minister, the Government and the relevant security agencies are favouring one sort of value over the other, and why the individual took precedence or when the group takes priority. Without such explanations such judgments run the risk of being arbitrary or poorly thought out.”