In the aftermath of this week’s senseless shooting of innocent, concert-loving people in Las Vegas, some of the Australian media are canvassing for ‘quick fixes’ and ‘lessons learned for Australia.’
As overseers of many large gatherings of ordinary citizens, governments at all levels should not succumb to overly restrictive new measures that further reign-in the freedom loving and outdoors which is so ingrained in the Aussie and Kiwi way of life.
Already the installation of unsightly concrete bollards, reminiscent of war-time tank traps, which have been springing up around some of our capital cities, is detracting from the civic amenity and sense of place so avidly sought by city planners. While these may well be interim measures, it is to be hoped that well designed and creative security structures will replace these bollards and add to the sense of interest for our cities rather than detract.
Changed times and acts of terrorism are a modern day reality that the world must live with. The balance that must be preserved is that security measures should not be allowed to completely overtake the ordinary enjoyment and amenity of life of everyday Aussies and New Zealanders.
Recent guidelines published by the Australian Government (Australia’s Strategy for Protecting Crowded Places from Terrorism
) help in assessing and managing risks for the safety of large gatherings. This is a sensible and pragmatic approach that local government can rely on in dealing with these issues.
Absolutely, we need to implement reasonable and appropriate counter-terrorism measures such as our world-wide changes to airport security – but we can’t account for the actions of rogue operatives across every single event or gathering across the globe.
Security forces and intelligence agencies throughout the western world appear to be doing a very successful job of intervention before planned mass terrorist attacks occur, but this is only for those on their watch list. Rogue operatives will continue to blend amorphously among us and use whatever they can that is at their disposal.
The world is a challenging place at times and the loss of 59 lives and injuring of 527 in this shooting is no less or more significant than the loss of 360 lives in the Mexican earthquake on 19 September. Both were senseless and needless. One was a natural disaster, the other was a potentially avoidable human disaster – but both caused significant loss of life.
IPWEA will be using the Australia’s Strategy for Protecting Crowded Places from Terrorism
publication as a starting point for the many other critical infrastructure facilities that local government is responsible for which could become terrorist targets with the potential to cause widespread harm, fear, or at the very least, dislocation of essential services.
When you consider that many local governments are responsible for such significant infrastructure as regional airports, sewerage and waste treatment works, regional water supply facilities, and major sporting facilities, it justifies IPWEA sitting at the table with State and Federal Governments to devise practical risk minimisation strategies for such crucial infrastructure. The world is indeed a changed place. Robert Fuller CEO, IPWEA