Oz security experts worried over funds as country's terrorism bill edges towards $30bn
Sydney, Sept 11 (ANI): As Australia's bill for fighting terrorism edges towards 30 billion dollars, security experts are beginning to question whether they are getting value for money.
This estimate is based on what we have paid to fight two wars, boost intelligence and policing, and strengthen domestic security in the 10 years since the September 11 attacks on the United States. Part of the problem in assessing the value of the security bill is a lack of clarity in official accounting, and the absence of any cost-benefit analysis. Unlike the US, Australia does not have a separate homeland security budget, the Sydney Morning Herald reports.
The US budget, since September 11, is about one trillion dollars- that is, US1000 billion dollars. Add in the costs of the US wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the cost is 3-4 trillion dollars.
Mark Thomson, a former Defence Department official and now an analyst at the Australian Strategic Policy Institute, is an expert on the defence budget. Drawing on budget figures, he calculates Australia has spent an extra 21.3 billion dollars on defence and security since 2001, the paper said.
The largest share has gone on the military commitments to the Iraq war (2.4 billion dollars) and Afghanistan (7 billion dollars and counting). A further 10.4 billion dollars has been spent on extra security at home.
The Australian Federal Police and ASIO have been major beneficiaries. The nominal increase in ASIO's budget over the past nine years is 471 per cent, according to Thomson's calculations. Its budget allocation in 2001 was 69 million dollars. This year it is close to 400 million dollars, after peaking at 450 million dollars in 2007. Thomson's total figure of 21.3 billion dollars also includes an extra 1.5 billion dollars in aid to Iraq and Afghanistan. It does not include spending by state and local governments, nor the cost of extra security introduced by business and non-government organisations.
Yates, conference chairman, said there was growing evidence that a lot of the spending was ineffective, and some a waste.
"A key theme is about recalibrating our security response. This is a polite way of saying, 'Guys, we know this isn't right any more, we can't justify it, there's no evidence to support the expenditure to date,' " he said.
Over 100 Australians have been killed by terrorists since 2001 - all overseas, most in the 2002 Bali bombing. While there have been no terrorist attacks in Australia, agencies such as ASIO argue they have foiled four "mass casualty events". In a recent speech the ASIO director general, David Irvine, said the organisation was conducting "literally hundreds" of investigations into possible terrorist plans. (ANI)
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