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Terror Alert Raised To High; Abbott Says No Imminent Threats But People With Intent And Capability Are Here

Prime Minister Tony Abbott has announced that the government has raised the terrorism alert level from ‘medium’ to ‘high’.

Abbott

Abbott said there are no imminent threats but that “there are people with the intent and capability to mount attacks here in Australia”.

Speaking at a press conference with the Director-General of the Australian Security and Intelligence Organisation (ASIO), David Irvine, and the Acting Commissioner of the Australian Federal Policy (AFP), Andrew Colvin, Abbott said members of the public should not notice anything in their daily lives but that security would be stepped up at government buildings, defence facilities and major public events.

The Prime Minister urged members of the public who notice anything out of the ordinary to ring the National Security Hotline on 1800 123 400.

Irvine said events in the Middle East have increased the level of activity amongst extremists. He said the “rhetoric now coming out of the Middle East is encouraging Australians to take violent action and increases the risk at home”.

The Acting Commissioner of the Australian Federal Police, Andrew Colvin, said: “We are asking the community to be more vigilant. We want people to be aware, but we also want them to go about their usual lives.”

Abbott said: “There are people who wish to do us hard because of who we are and the life we lead.”

“Every Australian is part of our team,” Abbott said. “The great thing about all our migrant communities… is no-one loves our country more than people who have come here… I want to dispel any idea that this is about religion or particular communities.”

The Leader of the Opposition, Bill Shorten, gave full support to the decision. He said: “When it comes to fighting terrorism, we are all in this together. The prime minister and I are partners when it comes to matters of national security.”

  • Listen to Abbott’s press conference (43m)
  • Watch an extract (11m)
  • Listen to Bill Shorten and Mark Dreyfus (15m)

Joint press release from Prime Minister Tony Abbott and Attorney-General Senator George Brandis.

National Terrorism Public Alert Level Raised To High

Based on advice from security and intelligence agencies, the Government has raised the National Terrorism Public Alert level from Medium to High.

The Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO) independently determines the threat level.

The advice is not based on knowledge of a specific attack plan but rather a body of evidence that points to the increased likelihood of a terrorist attack in Australia.

Security and intelligence agencies are concerned about the increasing number of Australians working with, connected to, or inspired by terrorist groups such as ISIL, Jabhat al-Nusrah, and al-Qaeda. The threat they pose has been increasing for more than a year.

The first priority of the Government is to ensure the safety and security of its citizens.

Raising the alert level to High is designed to increase vigilance and raise awareness in the community.

While it is important the public are aware of the increased threat, Australians should continue to go about their lives.

Strong arrangements are in place to detect, prevent and respond to terrorism.

Earlier today, state and territory governments were notified of the decision to raise the threat level and federal and state law enforcement agencies will work to counter the terrorist threat.

Owners and operators of critical infrastructure and places of mass gathering are encouraged to review their security plans and update their contact details with their state or territory police counter-terrorism unit.

The Government is also taking strong action to equip our security agencies and border protection agencies with the resources and powers they need to detect terrorist activities at home and prevent radicalised foreign fighters from returning to Australia.

More than $630 million has been provided to boost the counter-terrorism capacity of the Australian Federal Police, ASIO, ASIS, Customs and Border Protection and other agencies.

We are also updating counter-terrorism legislation to strengthen agencies’ capability to prevent and disrupt domestic security threats.

The public can provide valuable information to assist security and law enforcement agencies identify potential threats and prevent them from developing.

Members of the public can report suspicious activities to the National Security Hotline on 1800 123 400, or directly to local police.

How long the threat level remains at High is a matter for our intelligence and security agencies, but the Government does not want to see it remain High for a day longer than necessary.

Media release from Bill Shorten, Leader of the Opposition.

National Terrorism Public Alert Level

Shorten

The determination of ASIO to increase the terror threat level and the Government’s decision to raise the National Terrorism Public Alert level to high is a most serious decision.

Since the current alert system started in 2003, four major terrorist attacks on Australian soil have been disrupted, with the participants prosecuted, convicted and jailed.

Labor has every confidence in our security agencies to keep Australians safe.

While we remain vigilant – Australians are smart and resilient people – and I know we won’t let threats interfere with the way we live our lives, or undermine our tolerant, inclusive society.

For the average Australian, these changes should not impact their daily lives.

Labor will continue to support the Government in its most important responsibility – ensuring the safety of Australian citizens.

The Prime Minister and I are partners when it comes to national security, and that is what Australians expect of us.

If people notice something out of the ordinary, they are encouraged to call the National Security Hotline on 1800 123 400 or contact local police.

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