Abstract and Keywords
From the foundation of the modern security service in 1949, to the development of the concept of security after 2001 and the announcement of the war on terror, the theory and practice of intelligence and national security has troubled Australians. All throughout this half century, the maintenance of national security posed many questions concerning its necessity as well as the most effective means of sustaining it. Indeed, the extent of sabotage and subversion and the constitutional oversight of those agencies charged with detecting and deterring it have constituted an enduring problem for Australian democratic self-understanding. This pursuit of national security exposed a paradox in the core of Australian democracy, namely, that the practice of political freedom entails the proscription of those dedicated to undermining it. The lack of conviction of successive Australian governments on the need for security and intelligence organizations and the public apathy on the part of Australians furthered this paradox. This article discusses Australian intelligence and national security. It examines the context in which the understanding of Australian national security evolved to address the unique threat environment the island continent inhabits. It also evaluates Australia's security agencies and the threats they currently confront today.
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