Terror attack in Aust less likely: Howard
A terrorist attack on Australian soil is less likely now in many respects than 10 years ago, according to John Howard.
A TERRORIST attack on Australian soil is less likely now in many respects than 10 years ago, according to John Howard.
Mr Howard, prime minister at the time of the 2002 Bali bombings, said no government could guarantee against extremist attacks, but the Bali atrocity had made Australians more wary and better prepared.
“I don’t think the likelihood of it now is any greater than it was 10 years ago. In some respects it’s less than it was,” he told AAP after attending a 10th anniversary memorial service in Bali.
Australia had stronger laws, terrorist networks had been damaged and security forces had more timely intelligence.
“If you’re saying to me could I (as prime minister) have guaranteed no attacks, or can Julia Gillard guarantee it, the answer is no. Nobody can,” he said.
“All you can do if you are in office is take all necessary steps, including having tough laws and talking frankly about the causes of terrorism.”
Mr Howard said tough anti-terrorism measures had been vindicated by the capture of all perpetrators of the Bali bombings, including three who had been convicted and shot by firing squad.
“If you lost a child in those nightclubs you would want the person who had murdered your child brought to justice,” he said.
Talking personally to so many of the victims’ families had fired him on a mission to catch the killers.
“I developed out of that what I call a congealed hostility to the people who had done it and a determination to catch them,” he said.
“It built in me an even greater hostility towards them.
“The victims were a cross-section of ordinary Australian humanity who lost their lives doing the most natural thing in the world – having a good time.”
Mr Howard said the Bali attacks had made Australians more wary and worldly, but had not destroyed their spirit or their appetite for adventure overseas.
He said it had given him a deeper affection and respect for the duality of the Australian character.
“We can be as tough as tungsten when needed, and also gentle and compassionate when needed,” he said.
“It’s not a bad double.”