Madrid Bombings Prompt Meeting Of Counter Terrorism Committee

In the aftermath of the bombings in Madrid, the Prime Minister, John Howard, has announced that he will convene a meeting of the National Counter Terrorism Committee to examine the security of Australia’s transport facilities.

The Madrid bombings targeted the city’s metropolitan railway service and claimed around 200 lives.

The Counter Terrorism Committee consists of representatives from each of the 8 State and Territory Premiers’ and Chief Ministers’ departments, Deputy Police Commissioners and Australian Government agencies.

Text of a media release from the Prime Minister, John Howard.

NATIONAL COUNTER TERRORISM COMMITTEE TO MEET

In light of the attack in Madrid, I have asked the National Counter-Terrorism Committee (NCTC) to convene a teleconference tomorrow to discuss transport security arrangements in Australia.

This is the key, national coordinating body for counter-terrorism in Australia. It meets on a regular basis and it is appropriate for it to do so, in light of a major international security incident.

The Committee is chaired by a Deputy Secretary of my department and brings together representatives from relevant Australian Government agencies, Deputy Police Commissioners from all States and Territories and senior representatives from Premiers’ and Chief Ministers’ departments.

The Australian and state and territory governments work cooperatively together on the full range of national security arrangements. These are set out in the National Counter-Terrorism Plan which includes arrangements for transport security.

Transport security is managed by relevant agencies on a daily basis and arrangements are in place to ensure that if circumstances change, appropriate measures are taken. In light of the Madrid bombings, the NCTC will work to ensure that these transport security measures are as robust as possible in the current threat environment.

Clearly, the terrorist attack in Madrid highlights the worldwide threat of terrorism and our ongoing need for vigilance. In the last twelve months alone, there have been terrorist attacks in a number of countries including Indonesia, Saudi Arabia, Morocco, Turkey and now Spain. It is a reminder that no country is free from risk.

Our security and intelligence agencies are constantly monitoring the global situation. There is presently no known specific threat to Australia and the level of national counter-terrorism alert remains at medium.

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