Posted by andreas from dtm2-t9-2.mcbone.net (188.8.131.52) on Tuesday, January 07, 2003 at 7:27AM :
In Reply to: Terror Alerts Manufactured? posted by andreas from dtm2-t8-2.mcbone.net (184.108.40.206) on Tuesday, January 07, 2003 at 6:55AM :
Terrorist alert here to stay after danger period runs out
By Tom Allard and Cosima Marriner
January 7 2003
The Federal Government's nationwide alert for a possible terrorist attack will remain in force and could stay for years, the acting Prime Minister, John Anderson, said yesterday.
While no further information had emerged about a strike on Australia, Mr Anderson said: "We don't feel at this stage it is appropriate to change."
The alert could "conceivably" remain for years, he said, before adding: "I hope that's unlikely."
The unprecedented nationwide security alert, issued on November 19, was based on "credible" intelligence suggesting an attack on Australia "over the next couple of months".
The time frame for the attack will pass in coming weeks but government sources said the alert would almost certainly remain in place, given global instability and hostility expressed towards Australia by Islamic extremists.
The November 19 warning prompted the Government's $15million advertising campaign warning Australians to "be alert but not alarmed" and the creation of a hotline to field calls about suspicious activity.
The hotline received 2615 calls in its first week, the Attorney-General, Daryl Williams, said yesterday as he fended off criticism from Labor that the hotline and advertising campaign were a poor use of resources.
"The conclusion, at this stage, is that the hotline is serving the purpose for which it was set up," Mr Williams said.
About 60 per cent of calls involved people reporting behaviour or a situation they regarded as suspicious while 25 per cent were general calls about the public information campaign and 10 per cent were from people seeking advice or assurance.
But Labor's justice spokesman, Daryl Melham, said the figures revealed little about the effectiveness of the hotline.
He called on Mr Williams to reveal how many calls had led to police or ASIO action and how much time was being taken up by false or mistaken reports to the hotline.
The television campaign calls on Australians to protect their "way of life" and outlines previously announced government policies. Future advertisements, and a booklet to be mailed soon to every household in the country, should be more instructive, a government source said.
But Labor said that so far the campaign was almost useless.
"I think you should rename them and call them 'be alarmed but don't be alert'," Labor's foreign affairs spokesman, Kevin Rudd, told Channel Seven. "The reason I say that is each time I have looked at the ad or read the print version of the same, there is actually nothing in the ad that tells the Australian people what they are supposed to be alert about."
The Small Business Minister, Joe Hockey, appearing with Mr Rudd, defended the cost. "McDonald's spends $60million a year selling hamburgers ... What we are trying to do is just raise the level of awareness that there are issues out there, there are potential threats."
The largest American aircraft carrier has entered Fremantle for the second time in two weeks, amid speculation it is preparing for a strike against Iraq. The USS Abraham Lincoln was ordered back to the port for maintenance and repairs a week after it left.
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