Australia’s efforts to counter international terrorism and the spread of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) are among its highest foreign policy priorities. Australia has concluded nine bilateral arrangements promoting closer cooperation on counter-terrorism in the Asia-Pacific region, and has provided practical assistance to strengthen the region’s counter-terrorism capacity. Australia also co-hosted with Indonesia the Regional Ministerial Meeting on Counter-Terrorism in Bali in February 2004 and is engaged in follow-up work. In July 2004 the Jakarta Centre for Law Enforcement Cooperation - a joint Australia-Indonesia initiative - was opened. The Centre will boost the capacity of law enforcement agencies to fight terrorism and other transnational crime.
In 2004 a White Paper entitled Transnational Terrorism: The Threat to Australia was launched. The Terrorism White Paper describes the nature of the evolving terrorist threat to Australia, and the Australian Government's international response to that threat.
Australia actively supports multilateral arms control and non-proliferation regimes, including efforts to strengthen their compliance and verification mechanisms. The Proliferation Security Initiative -a global initiative which aims to develop practical measures to disrupt illicit WMD-related trade -is a core element of Australia’s counter-proliferation strategy. Australia chairs the Australia Group - an export control regime dedicated to preventing the proliferation of chemical and biological weapons.
In the current, challenging security environment, relations with traditional security partners such as the USA are particularly important for Australia. Australia is also developing and deepening its bilateral defence and security relationships with countries throughout the Asia-Pacific region, and with regional and multilateral security fora such as the ASEAN Regional Forum. Australia also works bilaterally and through regional fora to combat transnational crime. For example Australia co-chairs, with Indonesia, the Bali process on people smuggling, trafficking in persons and related transnational crime, and has provided financial assistance to help eradicate international trafficking in persons.
In 2004 Australia increased its engagement with the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation - one of the most powerful multilateral security alliances - through closer cooperation on countering terrorism, countering proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and enhancing military interoperability.