I would like to sincerely thank the U.S. Consul General Ms. Rachel L. Cooke and Mr. Bruce Havilah of Havilah Legal for inviting me to listen to Her Honour Marianne BOWLER at The Western Australian Club yesterday evening. I felt very privileged. She spoke of the legal aspects, the trial, investigations and a number of pertinent social issues arising out of the attack. To listen to someone who was so close to the event and be able to detail aspects was extremely informative. Particularly the amount of information gained by police and legal throughout the process.
This led me to think: We have this information, so what are we doing with it now? Are we using this to prevent further attacks?
Having looked at this incident and many others I saw the main issue we face is a lack of awareness and recognition of what is happening around us. The footage of the incident shows the offender putting a backpack on the ground and walking away. I know there isn’t much time, but no one recognises this. A bomb goes off in the distance and approximately 15 seconds later the unattended bag explodes. I know this is difficult to recognise to the untrained eye, but that’s the point.
We live in a very different world now where security is everyone’s concern, not just government. As a community we need to gain knowledge of what to look for and understand, what places have more risk. This is vigilance.
Further, we have heard about security officers who are ill equipped to deal with acts of terrorism, what about the recognition of pre-cursor activity/planning? This is when we need to get these people. Do we actually think these guys just woke up in the morning and decided to plant bombs? Alas training costs money and expense over safety always wins.
In Australia we have a disturbing situation where we are seeing major cost cutting by government, private enterprise and event organisers in the area of security. At the Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast, we saw guards walking off duty, a major safety concern. I would suggest money is an issue here. I have witnessed sites of mass gathering with inferior defence systems and others have none at all.
We have seen attack after attack which provides a lot of knowledge. We might use this knowledge for a short while after an incident, but I would suggest the thought process then consists of, well it’s costing us money now, do we really need it? You will then see security diminish. And of course, ‘It can’t happen here’. I hope the gamble these organisations are taking is right.