1301.0 - Year Book Australia, 2008  
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 07/02/2008   
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Contents >> International Relations >> Australia's security interests


Countering the threat of transnational terrorism is a key priority for ensuring the security and safety of Australia and Australians.

Australia is cooperating closely with countries in the region to bring terrorists to justice and to prevent further terrorist attacks. Australia’s capacity-building assistance focuses on practical and sustained support for regional countries, particularly Indonesia and the Philippines, in key areas such as law enforcement, intelligence, border control, transport and maritime security, defence, terrorist financing and counter-radicalisation. To facilitate such cooperation, Australia has concluded 13 bilateral counter-terrorism Memorandums of Understanding with Turkey, Malaysia, Thailand, the Philippines, Fiji, Cambodia, PNG, Indonesia, India, East Timor, Brunei, Pakistan, and Afghanistan.

The Australian Government also works productively in regional and multilateral fora, including the ARF, the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum, the PIF, the G8 Counter-Terrorism Action Group and the UN, to build political and technical support for more effective counter-terrorism efforts. In March 2007, Australia co-hosted with Indonesia a Sub-Regional Ministerial Conference on Counter-Terrorism, bringing together Australia's key regional partners to advance its collective capacity to counter terrorism. In July 2006, Australia joined the newly established Global Initiative to Combat Nuclear Terrorism as an initial partner country.

Australia attaches high priority to countering the proliferation of WMD. The DFAT 2005 paper Weapons of Mass Destruction: Australia’s Role in Fighting Proliferation highlights the extent and nature of the contemporary threat posed by WMD proliferation and Australia’s multifaceted strategy to address that threat. This includes efforts to strengthen adherence to and compliance with the major non-proliferation treaties - the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, the Chemical Weapons Convention, the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention and the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty. Through active participation in the International Atomic Energy Agency and other forums, Australia contributes to international efforts to resolve concerns over the nuclear activities of Iran and the DPRK.

Australia is the permanent chair of the Australia Group, which is dedicated to preventing the proliferation of chemical and biological weapons. Australia also participates actively in the Nuclear Suppliers Group which aims to prevent civilian nuclear trade from contributing to nuclear weapons programs in non-nuclear weapons states, the Missile Technology Control Regime whose members share the goal of non-proliferation of unmanned delivery systems capable of delivering WMD, and the Wassenaar Arrangement which seeks to control the transfer of conventional weapons and defence and dual-use goods. The Proliferation Security Initiative - a global initiative established in 2003 to develop practical measures to disrupt illicit trade in WMD - is also a core element of Australia’s counter-proliferation strategy. Australia provides practical technical assistance to key regional countries to help them improve export control measures so they meet relevant international obligations and strengthen national structures.

Australia’s alliance relationship with the USA is crucial to Australia’s security and to strategic stability in the Asia-Pacific region. Reflecting shared security interests, the Foreign Ministers of Australia, Japan and the USA held an inaugural ministerial meeting of the Trilateral Strategic Dialogue in Sydney in March 2006. Australia is deepening bilateral defence and security relationships with countries throughout the Asia-Pacific region and with regional security organisations such as the ASEAN Regional Forum and the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation. Australia works bilaterally and in regional forums to combat transnational crime. For example, Australia co-chairs with Indonesia the Bali process on people-smuggling, trafficking in persons and related transnational crime. The website at <http://www.baliprocess.net> provides more information.

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