I’m nearing the end of the PhD, and successfully passed the pre-submission seminar in early March. There’s a lot to do over the next three months, so blogging will still be rare. But there’s a bunch of terrorism and security updates from the past few months I want to share, so this is another post of resources that may interest regular readers.
The Independent National Security Legislation Monitor James Renwick has been reviewing Australia’s encryption legislation, and the public hearings provide the most informative discussions I’ve ever seen on the topic. See:
- James Renwick’s opening statement on 20 February 2020
- Transcript of the 20 February 2020 public hearing
- Transcript of the 21 February 2020 public hearing
- James Renwick’s speech to the Lowy Institute on 5 March 2020
Renwick also published his latest annual report.
The Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security held public hearings as part of its review into Australia’s data retention legislation. Stilgherrian wrote an interesting piece about the social license implications and you can read the full transcripts here:
- Transcript of the 7 February 2020 public hearing
- Transcript of the 14 February 2020 public hearing
- Transcript of the 28 February 2020 public hearing
The 28 February transcript is particularly worth reading for Mark Dreyfus and Anthony Byrne’s contributions, seeking answers as to why so many more agencies are about to access the data than was initially suggested when the legislation was introduced.
On 24 February the new Director-General of the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO), Mike Burgess, gave a public speech to deliver his first Annual Threat Assessment. The speech highlighted the threat of extreme-right terrorism and foreign interference, along with longstanding concerns about the threat posed by jihadist movements such as Islamic State and al-Qaeda as well as traditional espionage.
He then testified at a Senate estimates hearing on 2 March 2020.
Federal Member of Parliament Tim Watts, from the Australian Labour Party, gave an important speech to the National Press Club on 27 February about disinformation and democracy. Watts plays an extremely valuable role in Australia’s national security debates and is worth following on Twitter. On this topic it’s also worth reading:
- The Geopolitics of Information, by Eric Rosenbach and Katherine Mansted, May 2019
- Strategic Army: Developing Trust in the Shifting Landscape, by Emily Bienvenue and Zachary Rogers, November 2019
- Activating People Power to Counter Foreign Interference and Coercion, by Katherine Mansted, December 2019
- Truth as Fiction: The Dangers of Hubris in the Information Environment, by Zachary Rogers and Jason Logue, February 2020
There’s also been some new security-focused journals and outlets released:
- In November, the Australian Defence College released a new journal, the Australian Journal of Defence and Strategic Studies (AJDSS). It replaces the older Australian Defence Force Journal.
- Over in New Zealand, the Centre for Defence and Security Studies at Massey University released a new journal in October called the National Security Journal.
- There’s also Schwartz Media’s new journal, Australian Foreign Affairs, which is not new (it was launched in 2017) but is worth reading.
- The Australian Army Journal re-launched last year, after a bit of a hiatus.
- The Institute for Regional Security has revamped its website, and there should be new issues of Security Challenges out soon.
- The Australian Army’s Land Power Forum has re-launched.
Most importantly, it will soon be the one year anniversary of the Christchurch massacre, when an Australian white supremacist carried out a mass shooting attack against worshippers at two mosques, murdered 51 people and injured nearly 50 more.
The attack should be considered the most significant development in Australian terrorism in recent years. I will discuss it more in my next AVERT post, but in this post I want to share some resources focused on the victims.
The 7am podcast has released a 3-part series on the massacre, hosted by Osman Faruqi, which I highly recommend:
- White terror, part one: 35 widows, 10 March 2020
- White terror, part two: The dossier, 11 March 2020
- White terror, part three: The itch at your back, 12 March 2020
The Guardian published this valuable article on 8 March: