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Wednesday, 14 May 2003
Page: 14526


Mr Murphy asked the Attorney-General, upon notice, on 4 February 2003:

(1) How many telephone calls have been received by the 1800 123 400 hotline for the “Lets look out for Australia” terrorism alert campaign.

(2) What is the general nature of calls believed to be genuine.

(3) How many calls have been found to be hoax calls.

(4) How many calls have been acted upon and by whom.

(5) What action has been taken by the various authorities in response to those calls believed to be genuine.

(6) Is the Government satisfied with the public response to its terrorism alert campaign; if so, why; if not, why not.


Mr Williams (Attorney-General) —The answer to the honourable member's question is as follows:

(1) As at 28 February 2003, the National Security Hotline had taken 11,527 calls.

(2) The majority of calls are genuine. These calls involved the provision of information about suspicious activity, the seeking of information about security arrangements and the threat environment, and comments regarding the campaign.

(3) There have been three persons charged (one found guilty) for making a hoax or malicious call to the National Security Hotline. One related to an alleged bomb threat in Western Australia (found guilty), one related to an alleged threat, in New South Wales, against the Prime Minister and another related to an alleged extortion attempt in Victoria.

(4) Commonwealth, State or Territory agencies analyse information received. All information relating to suspicious activities is forwarded to them by the Hotline for assessment. It is a matter for those agencies to determine the response to each call.

(5) Agencies have advised that they are receiving useful information from the Hotline. Action taken is dependent on the nature of the information.

(6) The fact that in excess of 11,500 calls have been received by the National Security Hotline since its inception is an indication of the success of the campaign. The majority of calls received by the Hotline relate to members of the public reporting, what is to them, suspicious activity. If only one of the calls prevents a terrorist attack, then the campaign will have served its purpose.