Thursday, June 9, 2011

Security risks to Australia

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This tutorial essay will seek to give an analysis of potential security threats to Australia in the Asia Pacific. However due to word limit constraints a number of important issues are not able to be discussed these issues include the threat maritime crime against Australian vessels in international waters, illegal fishing within our territorial waters, small arms trafficking and the threat of infectious disease.

These are certainly interesting and therefore dangerous times to be alive many threats are facing our nation and its citizens not only in our homeland but anywhere we may travel in the world. Recent terrorist attacks on Australian targets in Bali have signalled that we can no longer stand idly by under the deluded impression that we are safe. It is time to act.

In light of recent attacks against our people it is appropriate that this paper begins with an analysis of threat of terrorist attack against Australia or Australian targets within the region. The threat of terrorism in the Asia-Pacific region has not abated with the end of the Cold War; if anything, the situation has deteriorated due to increased globalisation, more cooperation between terrorist organizations, and the emergence of new terrorist sources and tactics. Various terrorist groups in Asia are increasingly linked with each other and with suppliers of money, weapons and training outside the region. Terrorism overlaps with other transnational security threats, as terrorist groups frequently engage in organized crime and narcotics trafficking to raise funds. Combating terrorism effectively may prove to be an obstacle to democratisation in Asia, exacerbating the tension between state police powers and individual rights. With the presence of four declared nuclear powers in the Asia Pacific region there is a chance that one of these international terrorist cells could gain access to nuclear armaments. Australia’s position as one the United States closest allies in the region puts at possible risk from attack especially considering our close proximity to the worlds largest Muslim nation Indonesia and the anti Australian sentiments harboured by many of their number. http//www.apcss.org

Whilst the risk of a nuclear terrorist against Australia is quite low the discovery of an abandoned terrorist training camp in near Canberra last year is evidence of terrorist activity on our shores. One scenario could involve the use chemical or biological weapons against one of Australia’s major cities or an attack upon one of our many embassies within the region. It is interesting to note that the Australian embassy was forced to temporarily shut down operations in East Timor last month after terrorist threats. http//www.ci-ce-ct.com/Feature%0articles/0-11-001.asp http//iiasnt.leidenuniv.nl8080/DR/00/0/DR_00_0_17/1

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Some of the preceding points have been illustrated in the last week by major terrorist attack against Australians in Bali allegedly orchestrated by the extremist Jeemahh Islamiah group who receives logistical support and funds from Osama Bin Ladin’s Al Quada terror network. http//ninemsn.com.au/

There are a number of different scenarios in which Australia could ether face a hostile military force or be drawn into a greater regional conflict. There are a number of well-equipped and well-trained military powers including China, Indonesia, Russia, India and the United States operating within the Asia Pacific region. Of these five four are declared nuclear powers and Indonesia has not tried to hide the fact that it is exploring the possibility of acquiring nuclear armaments. Any conflict, which involved two or more of these powers, could potentially develop into a global war that would inevitably envelop Australia. http//www.apcss.org/


Let us theoretically examine a potential conflict between the United States and the People’s Republic of China. Let us say that the rogue Chinese province of Taiwan were to formally declare their independence from Mainland China. Then in accordance with existing PRC policy China would in retaliation launch a full-scale military invasion of the island. http//www.fas.org/news/china/000/000-prc4.htm

The United States in their role as the self appointed regional police might decide to send their own military forces to protect the small but economically significant and democratic island. The US would then have the option of activating the ANZUS treaty forcing Australia to commit troops and military hardware to the campaign. This scenario would certainly have major repercussions for Australia’s security. http//www.austemb.org/PDFs/Anzus.pdf

At this point in time a potentially catastrophic crisis is on the horizon. Australia largest trading pattern Japan is on the verge of an economic collapse. In 18 the rapid depreciation of the Thai Baht triggered the Asian financial crisis imagine then the ramifications of Japanese economic implosion. http//www.hartford-hwp.com/archives/50/index-a.html If the worlds second largest economy were to go belly up there is the chance that we could face a major global depression not seen since the 10’s. Australia is a relative small economy reliant in most part on international trade if Japan were no longer able to purchase Australian commodities we would find ourselves in major trouble. The destabilizing effect that this would have on the entire region would be phenomenal and could cause a major paradigm shift within Asia. Unemployment would skyrocket and human suffering would increase tenfold as developed countries would probably not be able to afford foreign aid. http//www.levy.org/docs/wrkpap/papers/7.html This would be a major blow to the concept of globalisation and might eventually lead to democratic governments in the region could being overthrown by military dictators or Marxists insurgents. This scenario is not altogether unrealistic and if it were to happen would certainly put Australia’s domestic security at risk

The Asia-Pacific region is a major crossroads for transnational crime activities and international criminal syndicates. A variety of transnational crimes occur in the region, including narcotics trafficking, credit card fraud, cyber crime and small arms trafficking. Criminal organizations are taking advantage of globalisation and loose border arrangements to disguise the scale and locations of their operations. Crime in the region thrives in the presence of government corruption or in areas with weak government structures. Making matters worse, crime--especially sophisticated transnational crime--can undermine the development of legal or democratic institutions. http//www.apcss.org/

The activities of these transnational crime gangs have certainly had negative repercussions for Australia’s domestic security. As a relatively wealthy country Australia has traditionally been a major destination for smuggled narcotics in particular MDMA, Methamphetamine and Heroin that have been manufactured in the golden triangle. The Australian customs service presently estimates that only 0 to 5% of all illicit drugs entering Australia are intercepted. International crime syndicates with operations in Australia have recently begun to diversify into Internet credit card fraud. For example recently a woman in Sydney used her credit card to purchase a meal at a Vietnamese restaurant in Cabramatta however unbeknownst to her one of the staff members ran her card through a special machine designed to store all the details on her card. Then using the latest cyber technologies associates of his ran up thousands of dollars worth of illegal purchases through out the Asia Pacific.

Another problem is presented by the illegal importation of small arms into our country. For years now especially in light of the ban imposed upon semi automatic weapons in 17 Australia has been a lucrative market for all kinds of hand held weaponry. For example an AK47 Kashnikov assault rifle can sell for a little as $5 in Indai and Pakistan and can fetch a price of up to $000 on the streets of Melbourne and Sydney. In spite of tough laws prohibiting the importation of such weapons demand from Australian organised crime syndicates and armed robbers remains high.

In recent years the people smuggling operations of transnational crime gangs has become a prominent issue for Australian law enforcement agencies. This is of particular interest considering the impact that the Tampa incident had on last years federal election. It has been proven that illegal migration can lead to crime in host countries, as migrants who are unable to find legitimate employment must turn to crime to survive. Management of illegal migration in Australia has cost taxpayers tens of millions and despite Australia’s policy of mandatory detention the problem is continuing to worsen with thousands of would be illegal migrants primarily from the middle east awaiting passage to Australia Indonesian refugee camps.

There is little doubt that the activities of these crime syndicates have had and will continue to have negative repercussions for Australia’s domestic security.





The Asia-Pacific region is witnessing an almost catastrophic destruction of its environment. Air, water, and land pollution are rife and the trend in most countries is worsening. Key environmental challenges in the region include poor water quality, food insecurity, marine pollution, deforestation, acid rain (and trans boundary pollution), and global climate change. Environmental issues have traditionally been excluded from the realm of traditional security issues. As environmental problems worsen, however, that perception is changing. Environmental degradation has caused major inter-state tensions. http//www.adb.org/Documents/News/001/nr001057.asp


A huge cloud of pollution stretches from southern Indonesia all the way through the Asia pacific to northern China. This has been created by increased industrial production and power generation in the north and the burning of old growth forests in the south particularly in Kalimantan and Sumatra. http//www.nectec.or.th/haze/ http//greennature.com/article54.html If this cloud were to expand to envelop Australia it would have major repercussions for the health of our people and would markedly detract from our quality of life. In the event of an increase in ocean levels brought about by global warning Australia would have much to lose. Apart from the fact almost all of our major population centres are located in costal regions and would therefore be directly affected. Many of our island neighbours in the Pacific would completely submerged forcing their inhabitants to seek sanctuary in Australia such an influx of relatively poor migrants would place significant burdens upon our social security, health care, education systems as well as our economy as a whole. This therefore most certainly would present us with a threat to our way of life and therefore our security. In order to help combat this effective inter state solution need to be developed combining both short term strategies to deal with current problems and long term policies aimed at prevention. http//www.apcss.org/ http//www.adb.org/Documents/News/001/nr001057.asp

The threats to Australia in the region are many and varied and recent events have shown us that we are not immune and must begin to take our security seriously. It is not the sole responsibility of our elected government and bureaucracy to ensure our safety all individuals who reside in Australia must play a role.

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