In the increasingly globalised world of which Australia is a part, the attacks of 11 September 2001 were a challenge to the order that underpins our security and prosperity. The war against terrorism, and a heightened awareness of terrorism and transborder crime, have been the dominant feature of the past year.
The global environment continues to be dominated by globalisation and the strategic importance of the United States of America. Since the events of 11 September 2001 (see the article following this section), there has also been an increased international focus on transnational threats, particularly those related to acts of terrorism, from traditional assaults such as bombings, to future possibilities such as cyber or biological attacks. A common approach to terrorism and greater cooperation between major powers have resulted, although deep-rooted causes of rivalry and tensions remain.
Regionally, the climate has also been affected by the increased security concerns, cooperative measures and differing stances on the war against terrorism. Enduring issues such as governance, economic management and social cohesion, however, remain the primary strategic concerns in the region.
While the attacks in September 2001 changed Australia’s strategic environment in some important ways, a major attack on Australia remains only a remote possibility. Peacetime national tasks to ensure Australia’s security have become increasingly important. There is an increased emphasis on domestic security resulting from the 11 September attacks, with anti-terrorism efforts being invigorated. Border protection, again a transnational problem, has become the other major domestic security issue, with coastal surveillance, unauthorised boat arrivals, smuggling (both of people and goods), quarantine evasion and intrusions on Australian sovereignty (e.g. illegal fishing in Australian waters) all being targeted.