The politics of terrorism in Australia: Views from within
Australasian Study of Parliament Group
Faculty of Business and Law
School of Law and Justice
The views from within the Australian parliament on the response to the terrorist attacks in America on 11 September 2001 were enlightening, informative and mostly reassuring. These views highlighted the inbuilt strengths and weaknesses of our political system. The political response of these parliamentarians to those terrorist attacks had links to another time of crisis during World War Two when Australia turned from the United Kingdom (UK), the ‘mother country’, to the United States of America (USA) for military assistance against a looming Japanese invasion. Then the Australian Prime Minister John Curtin (1942) gave his ‘Call to America’ speech. In the more than sixty years since, the Australian – American relationship has blossomed. It includes regular Australia-United States Ministerial Consultations (AUSMIN), joint military exercises including facilities such as Pine Gap and visits by American naval units to Australia and, more recently, the start of an on-going rotation of US marines through Darwin. Australia’s response to the events of 11 September 2001 was in hindsight predictable. Despite Australia’s belief in its role as an independent nation state, its citizens still cling to the coattails of the British Empire. The Union Jack adorns a corner of the Australian flag and the Queen of England is the titular head of state. So, whilst Australia hangs onto the perceived political comfort and stability of the English Crown, it is to America that Australia looks for its security. This article includes responses from a number of parliamentarian about the terrorist attacks on the USA on 11 September 2001. This attack was an abhorrent assault on the core values of democracy and freedom in both nations (see, for example, AUSMIN 2002) but the date has historical overtones. On that day in 1973 President Richard Nixon supported the overthrow of the democratically elected Chilean Government of Salvador Allende.