Biggest Threats: National Security Approach Needs Rethink

New polling released today by The Australia Institute shows that Australians see natural disasters, economic collapse, climate change and chronic disease as the biggest threats to security.

Between 49% and 42% of Australians nominated these issues as threats, twice as many as terrorism (23%) and five times as many as war (9%).

This polling and a report comparing national security with ‘securitisation’ will be released at an Australia Institute webinar featuring:

  • Allan Gyngell, former head of the Office of National Assessments and Director of the ANU’s Crawford Australian Leadership Forum,
  • Allan Behm, head of International and Security Affairs at The Australia Institute,
  • Ebony Bennett, Deputy Director of The Australia Institute.

“We need to rethink the fundamentals of our national security policy,” said Allan Behm, head of the International & Security Affairs Program at The Australia Institute.

“Security policy needs to include the major threats to Australians’ wellbeing and prosperity. These include health, climate and economic insecurity.

“Rather than achieving security by addressing genuine threats, much current policy uses ‘securitisation’ to turn political and social issues into perceived threats.

“Securitisation dehumanises and demonises the targets of the policy. It creates and exploits fear, achieving the opposite of security.

“For example, our policies on refugees and Indigenous communities have been securitised, emphasising the power of the state, deploying military forces and using Orwellian titles such as ‘Operation Sovereign Borders’.

“The sad truth is that, in too many countries around the world, citizens want to be protected from their security forces rather than being protected by them. Australia’s democracy is mercifully free of that phenomenon – so far.”

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