I discovered the other day that we New South Welshmen have our very own Counter-Terrorism website. Yep, it’s there under the New South Wales Government Gateway at http://www.secure.nsw.gov.au/. I learned two things today from it. The first was that Australia has had a national counter-terrorism alert level system in place since 1978. Boy weren’t we forward thinking or was it simply a response at the time to the 13th of February 1978 bomb blast outside the Sydney Hilton when the Commonwealth Heads of Government Regional Meeting was due to take place?
The second thing I learned was that the three-level system that was implemented then (I guess that was Low, Medium and High Risk) was replaced in June 2003 with the current four-level system of low, medium, high and extreme.
Of course, the two most interesting things about that were that the level has been at medium in the over 4 years the four-level system has been in place. Guys, really, don’t you think that medium now loses some significance after the alert level’s been left at that level for so long? I mean who is going to take that seriously anymore?
The other interesting thing is that the extreme level applies when a “terrorist attack is imminent or has occurred”. I can understand extreme when one is imminent but having an extreme level after one has occurred seems a little like shutting the gate after the horse has bolted. I am sure this rates with the Australian Government’s insistence that aircraft meals into and out of Australia be served with plastic knives, which are in themselves three times more dangerous than the metal butter knives they replaced.