Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO) and counter-terrorism

Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO) and counter-terrorism


The Australia Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO) is Australia’s domestic intelligence agency, but also has a limited role in overseas security. Security as defined in the ASIO Act is “the protection of Australia and Australians from politically motivated violence (terrorism), communal violence, espionage, foreign interference, sabotage and attacks on Australia’s defence system”.

From 2001, ASIO began small counter-terrorism training programs in Melanesian countries, in co-operation with the Australian Federal Police (AFP).

In 2005, observers from Solomon Islands, together with Fiji, PNG and Indonesia participated in Mercury 05, the largest counter-terrorism exercise ever conducted in Australia.

Government sources

Enhancing ASIO’s capacity to respond to terrorist threats, Media Release, 11 May 2004

“The Government is demonstrating its continuing commitment to national security by boosting ASIO’s funding and further increasing ASIO’s ability to protect the Australian community against terrorist threats. New funding is being made available for increased staffing and capabilities and for capacity building in the region.

“The 2004-05 Budget will build on those initiatives by providing ASIO with additional funding of $131.4 million over four years to increase its national security capabilities [including] $1.1 million over four years to enable ASIO to continue its counter-terrorism training and advice to Melanesia.”

Multi-jurisdiction exercise Mercury 05, Submission by Attorney General’s Department to Joint Foreign Affairs and Trade Committee inquiry, 2005, p14.

Mercury 05 was the largest counter-terrorism exercise conducted in Australia to date and involved over 4,000 participants. The International Observer Program provided participating countries with the opportunity to view activities within Mercury 05, with the aim of fostering co-operative counter-terrorism arrangements between allied and regional nations. As part of this program, AusAID funded the participation of an observer from Fiji and PNG. In addition to AusAID’s contribution, the Australian Federal Police funded one participant from both Fiji and Indonesia and two participants from Solomon Islands.”

Security Environment Update, Attorney General’s Department, 8 May 2007

[Attorney General’s Department] AGD’s Anti-Money Laundering Assistance Team is working with Pacific countries to establish systems to combat terrorist financing and money laundering. Over the past year, the Team has provided a variety of technical assistance to Pacific countries including facilitating the establishment of the Solomon Islands’ Financial Intelligence Unit and providing in-country mentoring to its analysts, conducting a workshop for representatives of 14 Pacific Financial Intelligence Units and presenting workshops on anti money laundering and countering the financing of terrorism in Tonga and Solomon Islands, and for the judiciary and Bar in Palau.”

 See also