Statement from Australia PM Tony Abbott
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.
New Zealanders in Australia are advised to monitor the media for information about threats to safety and security and follow any instructions issued by the local authorities. There is a global risk of terrorism.
New Zealanders travelling and living in Australia are advised to take account of the terror threat level assigned by the Australian authorities when making travel decisions.
On 12 September 2014, the threat level for Australia was raised from Medium to High (level three on a four level scale). This means security authorities regard a terrorist attack is likely. 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.
Australia remains a target for terrorist interest. Internationally trained terrorists and groups and domestic-based extremists are the predominant threat. Terrorist groups in Syria and Iraq continue to plan attacks against the West. Australia has identified concerns related to foreign fighters returning to Australia from conflicts in these countries.
General travel advice New Zealanders making short term visits to Australia should ensure they take out a comprehensive travel insurance policy. While we have a reciprocal health care agreement with Australia which entitles New Zealand residents to emergency hospital treatment, the agreement does not cover out-of-hospital medical treatment including services like ambulance cover, medical evacuations and elective treatment including doctors' visits. New Zealanders travelling or living in Australia are encouraged to register their details with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade.