Welcome to the all new Australian Security Magazine to be published alongside our sister publication Asia Pacific Security Magazine. Having explored the Asia Pacific during the past year, we return to re-focus on the Australian security industry, whilst maintaining a regional presence.
There is a collective community interest in reforming the Australian security industry. There is also an urgency for reform to occur within the next term of Tony Abbott’s new Federal Government. The complaints briefly outlined herein, but detailed in a letter written to Federal and State Governments and which will be covered in greater detail in future issues, provide alleged Government facilitated breaches and common legislative issues which have been on the industry’s agenda for reform for a decade. The goal may now be to see the security industry benefit from the Coalition’s promoted 5 Pillar Economy and develop into an ‘advanced service industry’, with an initial focus on ‘reducing red tape and business costs’, caused by multi-jurisdictional, separate regulatory models. A situation that cannot continue unabated.
Whilst Australian organised crime is recognised as a growing and significant national security risk, costed at $15 billion, an increase of $5 billion since 2008, the private security sector, worth collectively in 2011 at about $4.6 billion and employing 50,000 people, continues to be poorly regulated due to inaction or inability to draft appropriate and consistent State legislation.
To highlight the issues, I’ve previously written of my exhaustive experience with NSW Police Security Licensing Enforcement Division and NSW Road and Maritime Services. Then my Queensland licence was under threat because of a mandatory requirement to travel to Queensland for fingerprinting, and with concern, there has been alleged breaches of the Security and Related Activities Act facilitated by the WA Public Transport Authority. In August 2013, the WA Public Transport Authority (PTA) announced the award to five companies for contracts installing CCTV and security systems subject to Transport Systems and Infrastructure Tender. The WA Police Security Licensing Enforcement Division (SLED) has confirmed it is investigating breaches of the WA Security & Related Activities Act.
From national issues to even more concerning international issues, as the Syrian conflict dominated headlines, alongside significant Egyptian, Lebanese and Iraqi events, it is worthwhile revisiting last year’s analysis provided by Lt Col (res) Dr Dany Shoham, published in our Asia Pacific Security Magazine (August 2012). Dr Shoham points out that Syria’s vast arsenal of operational-level chemical and biological weapons, based on lethal and incapacitating agents, is diverse by any standard. Syria also possesses many sophisticated launch platforms and dispersion equipment, including missiles, rockets, aircraft, artillery shells, cluster warheads, and unitary ammunition – most of which are of high quality. Syria has Scud missiles capable of carrying chemical warheads that can strike anywhere in Israel, even when launched from deep behind Syria’s front lines.
This explains why warning lights first flashed in American intelligence agencies when they discovered last year that the Syrian army had removed an unspecified number of chemical weapons from their storage sites. The US was deeply concerned that the Assad regime might employ such weapons against its opponents if conventional weapons fail and Assad senses that the end is approaching; a last-ditch apocalyptic act of après moi le deluge. There has also been a precedent: Bashar Assad’s father, President Hafez Assad, ordered the massacre in 1982 of approximately 18,000 Sunnis in Hama with cyanide gas.
In May 2012, Jordan and the US held a large-scale, nearly month-long, military exercise with more than 12,000 special forces from the United States and other countries, including Arab states – focused on military preparedness for emergency situations involving chemical and biological weapons in Syria. A follow-up study found, however, that 75,000 troops would be needed to secure Syria’s chemical arsenal. Outright bombarding of Syrian chemical or biological arms stockpiles could result in significant environmental pollution. Iranian leaders and commanders have also issued stark warnings to the United States and its allies, saying any military strike on Syria would have lead to a retaliatory attack on Israel fanned by ‘the flames of outrage.’
From these events in the Middle East and recent attacks in North Africa, we need to continue our understanding of our immediate region, the Asia Pacific. Whilst the South China Sea remains central to maritime trade routes, it holds massive oil and natural gas reserves. It is the site of territorial disputes between China and nations such as Taiwan, Vietnam, Malaysia and the Philippines. Add to this, Japan and China are involved in a separate dispute in the East China Sea and signs of increasingly more nationalistic political rhetoric by Japanese leaders.
As the potential for significant military conflict continues to emerge, during September I toured US facilities of global security and aerospace company, Lockheed Martin, including those in the Space, Aerospace, Maritime and Cyber Security domains. I look forward to providing specific reports about these facility visits in subsequent issues.
Stay tuned with us as we continue to explore, educate, entertain and most importantly, engage.
CPP, RSecP, GAICD