Security agencies reassure Australians ahead of ANZAC Day events

Across the eastern seaboard, police are adamant there is no specific threat to celebrations on the day, however New South Wales Counter-Terror Minister David Elliott has admitted individual attackers pose the greatest risk.

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“Well because our agencies are working so well and because the intelligence organisations are working so well it is harder for organisations to come together and express a threat, so the individual threat is probably the largest one and that’s why we have contingencies. That is why the police will be out in force.”

Counter-terrorism officers would not be drawn on the specific details of security operations or staffing numbers across the states, but Mr Elliott admits all public events are a risk.

“Any mass gathering is a risk to the community. Any mass gathering of course makes us more vulnerable, but as Australians we don’t accept terrorism as a reason to change our lifestyle. Our plans and contingencies for a safe day are well prepared. I am comfortable that the police are ready and able to respond to anything that occurs, but that doesn’t mean people shouldn’t accept responsibility for own actions.”

In Victoria, police have undertaken extensive preparations for Anzac Day events and ceremonies.

Acting Commander Peter O’Neill, of Victoria Police, says police will maintain a strong presence at the Shrine of Remembrance and throughout the CBD as part of Anzac Day services and ceremonies.

Victoria Police say a wide variety of units will be in attendance, including general duties police, transit police, operational response units, highway patrol units and Protective Service Officers.

Queensland police Detective Acting Superintendent Mick O’Dowd outlined a joint security effort for commemorative events in Brisbane.

“Our measures will be in response to the security environment that most of our major events are organised with now, the exact details of what goes into staffing numbers is an operational matter I won’t disclose, however to say that the threat level hasn’t changed. We have no specific threats for any of the events in Queensland and any of the ANZAC Day marches and events, we have no specific threats.”

This year, the New South Wales Government has also called on the public to assist them in keeping events safe.

Minister Elliott says it’s a community responsibility.

“If you see something that is suspicious, report it. If you meet somebody that doesn’t seem quite right – report it. Because the best way to fight terrorism, the best way to promote a safe and secure environment is to make sure we all talk and we all promote the success and safe future of our community.”

Former Australian Army officer and Victoria Cross medal recipient, Ben Roberts-Smith, highlights the importance of honouring fallen soldiers, now more than ever.

“The tightening up of security is obviously just a precautionary measure and we have the best police and emergency services in the world looking after us. And I think people just need to focus on going about their everyday business and remembering that ANZAC Day is an incredibly important part of what we do in Australia in commemorating the freedom we have. We need to pay our respects and I would urge everyone to go about that in a normal way. By letting terrorism or threats of violence stop us from doing what we want to do in our day to day lives would mean that they have won – and that isn’t acceptable.”