Australia maintained its position as a regional leader in the fight against terrorism. In June, Australia hosted the Trilateral Counterterrorism Consultations in Sydney and pushed for concrete measures to broaden the relationship between the Trilateral partners (Australia, Japan, and the United States) and regional stakeholders. Australia hosted a subregional ministerial conference on counterterrorism and the Asia-Pacific seminar on combating nuclear terrorism, and proposed that the partners develop and implement a special policy and operational "Combating Bioterrorism" workshop for Southeast Asian nations. The proposed workshop would strengthen local capacity to combat bioterrorism and improve the overall counterterrorism infrastructure in Southeast Asia by ensuring early detection of and effective response to bioterrorism.
The Jakarta Center for Law Enforcement Cooperation (JCLEC), continued to reap benefits for Australia and its regional partners. At the Counterterrorism Trilateral in Sydney, the partners proposed that JCLEC be expanded and serve as a platform for more diverse training. There were over 100 courses of training in place at JCLEC. Australia also continued its commitment to the designation of terrorist organizations; it has designated a total of 19 terrorist organizations under its domestic criminal code.
The Australian Federal Police (AFP) received further funding to expand its investigative and specialist training, currently delivered to regional law enforcement partners through facilities like JCLEC. Funding was targeted toward:
- conducting offshore exercises and training with regional partners,
- increasing the number of counterterrorism advisers working in AFP's international liaison officer network,
- introducing to high priority locations a custom-built Case Management and Information System developed for use in overseas jurisdictions, and
- enhancing specialist forensic and technical training for law enforcement agencies in the region.
In 2007, 350 officers of the AFP's International Deployment Group (IDG) were deployed overseas, many in counterterrorism technical assistance and operational/liaison roles. The AFP Operational Response Group was designed to respond on short notice to emerging law and order issues and to conduct stabilization operations to head off lawless situations that terrorists could exploit. Australia continued to provide legal drafting assistance to regional states, including the South Pacific islands, seeking to adopt international conventions and protocols against terrorism, and to bring domestic laws into conformity with these conventions.
The Australian Transaction Reports Analysis Centre (AUSTRAC), which monitors financial transactions, serves as the national AML/CTF regulator with supervisory, monitoring, and enforcement functions over a diverse range of industry sectors. A new set of regulatory reforms, introduced in draft legislation made public in August, included new regulations regarding real estate, precious gems and stones; and specified legal, accounting, and trust services. Australia continued to seek and fund additional staff and technical capabilities, and established identity security strike teams to investigate and prosecute people and syndicates involved in manufacturing false identities.
In May, Australia (with New Zealand, Indonesia, and the Philippines) cosponsored the Third Asia-Pacific Interfaith Dialogue, held in New Zealand. The Dialogue, involving religious and community leaders from 15 South East Asia and Pacific countries, aims to foster mutual respect, understanding, and tolerance, and to isolate religious extremism.
Australia is a partner with both the United States in exchanging information on known and suspected terrorists using the Terrorist Screening Center as the operational hub for encounter management; and with the United States in APEC's Regional Movement Alert System (RMAS). Both programs enhance our joint ability to disrupt travel by known and suspected terrorists.
In Afghanistan, Australia continued its support of a Dutch-led provincial reconstruction team. By year's end, there were 960 and 970 Australian troops in Iraq and Afghanistan, respectively.