This is a story I wrote in 2012 for a Security summit looking to work out possible threats to Australia. After the attacks in Paris this week it is eerily relevant.
“The numbers speak for themselves, Mister Prime Minister. You’ve had a problem since your government took over in 2009!” Carlton Maxwell proclaimed and pointed an accusatory finger at the agitated man sitting at the head of the table.
“I am not the one you should be pointing your finger at,” the Prime Minister replied calmly. “The blame sits squarely with the Al-Qaeda leadership who…”
“No! The blame sits equally on your shoulders,” Carlton exploded and slammed a fist on the table while ramming forward his pointed finger. “You came from a point of strength under the Howard government into the greatest misplacement of trust this country has ever fallen prey to. The stance Mr Rudd took on asylum seeker assistance caused this critical failure in security.” As he broke into his accusations the entire room remained silent and his mood relaxed from anger into brute confidence. “I’ve been given full oversight of your government in order to get to the bottom of this tragedy and I’m disgusted by the facts and figures I’ve discovered. In 2008 only twenty five immigrants arrived in Australia by boat. A year later 509 Afghan nationals entered Australia by the same channels that had previously been almost impossible to cross. 2009 saw 2650 immigrants from Afghanistan, 2010 had 1813, 2011 had 2203 and last year there were 2444.” Carlton said the numbers while staring at the Prime Minister. He didn’t refer to a piece of paper or hesitate as he spoke the exact numbers. “Over the four year period that the labour party controlled the government more than seventy percent of the arrivals were those Afghanis. Out of that number the same percentage were given protection visas. Afghanistan is an animalistic state controlled by terrorism. Don’t even get me started on all of the other Muslim countries that make up most of the remaining thirty percent of immigrants. How did alarm bells not ring at the highest level? At your level.”
The Prime Minister sat forward, outwardly unaffected by Carlton’s figures and spoke confidently. “Are you done?”
Carlton sat back in his chair and calmly folded his arms across his chest. He had stated his argument and was hopeful the Prime Minister would have a reasonable response.
“Firstly, every single figure you just relayed crossed my desk on multiple occasions, including much more in depth analyses. We knew better than anyone the origin of the majority of the illegal immigrants coming to our shores via these channels. Yes, seventy percent of them are Afghanis and yes we understand the country is volatile. But, what you seem to be missing is the fact that the majority of these people are running for their lives. They are victims of horrible atrocities performed by the Taliban. They are persecuted for anything as simple as not wanting to fight the infidels that have invaded their country. Every single one of these immigrants goes through stringent background checks to ensure their identity. Nobody is allowed into this country until we are fully assured that they are who they say they are and that they have no ill will against Australia. So yes, Mr Maxwell, red flags were raised at my level. But we have done everything possible to ensure that only those who required it were allowed entry. There was no way this could have happened the way Al-Qaeda claim. The immigration processing is air tight, especially with the reintroduction of offshore processing in Nauru.”
For the first time Clinton was unable to contain his laughter at the over confident statement.
The Prime Minister didn’t even break stride as he powered on with his rehearsed response. “Secondly, this goes far beyond simply allowing thousands of people into our country. This is a political issue that has been at the forefront of our countries key issues for decades and will be for decades to come.”
Carlton had had enough and decided to stop the Prime Minister before he embarrassed himself further. With a solid fist slammed into the table he silenced the man and brought the room to complete stillness. Inside his blood was boiling and even though he had shown with a single action his obvious frustration his words were calm and collected. “The politics behind this issue aside, I have to disagree with your claims that terrorists aren’t using people smuggling routes to bring their people into Australia.” He reached down to his briefcase beside his chair and extracted a stack of documents without breaking eye contact with the Prime Minister. “I have documents pertaining to the five men who carried out the attacks last Saturday. And guess what?” The documents landed in the centre of the table with a thud and fanned out towards the Prime Minister. A photocopy of an official Afghani passport landed right at the Prime Minister’s hands. “All five of those men entered the country through your supposedly airtight processing facilities over the past two years. Al-Qaeda is faking documents good enough to pass your supposedly stringent processing.”
Suddenly the room broke into a chorus of cries of outrage and Carlton just sat back in his chair with a smirk spread across his face while the Prime Minister fought to get control of the room.
After almost a full minute everyone finally began to settle down and the Prime Minister could be heard. “That is enough. We need to get on top of this situation now. The moment the media get a whiff of this we’re going to have a big task on our hands to keep the public opinion in check.”
Carlton had been resigned to let things run their course after he had dropped the bombshell, but he found himself once again unable to simply sit back and let the idiocy of the government control the situation. “Get a whiff!” He cried and pointed towards the closest wall where the media sat only metres away behind closed doors. “The media has been out there running rampant with this since the moment the first claim of responsibility came forward from Al-Qaeda leadership. Those documents will only fuel a fire that won’t be easily extinguished. The public is a fickle beast and will always buy into the media’s spin. They already believe that these terrorists entered Australia via boat like they were told by Al-Qaeda. When these documents go public with the truth there’s only going to be one way you can give yourself any hope of staying in power.”
The look on the Prime Minister’s face slowly turned from anger at the words that were being thrown at him to confusion. Eventually he spoke hesitantly, “Stop the boats?” Carlton raised his eyebrows slightly and just stared back in response. “That’s one of our key issues. If our stance on that changes we could lose the majority of our support. The media will have a field day and the public will tear us apart.”
“Are you even listening to what I’m saying?” Carlton said, rubbing the creases on his forehead. “The public has already swung. Even those who sided with you before are calling for action. Al-Qaeda has found a loophole that you never foresaw. So not only do you need to stop the boats, you have to gather every single Muslim immigrant that you’ve allowed into this country through your processing centres and reprocess them!”
“We can’t do that,” the Prime Minister blurted in outrage. “Five people slipped through our vetting process. There is no need to go to such extremes and assume that every Muslim has been provided false documents by Al-Qaeda and deport them. Not to mention the religious war that would ignite from such an outlandish act.”
“Those five men that slipped through the gaps were able to successfully launch terror attacks on key personnel and infrastructure. Forget the religious war that you think will occur and think about protecting your country. You think the Al-Qaeda senior leadership stopped when they hit the magic number of five terrorists getting into the country. No, they used their immense wealth to create documents for hundreds of people. Hell, how many Muslims have entered this country since your immigration policy changed? I’d take a wild guess and assume that there’s a very large chunk of them who are not who they say they are. Have you ever heard of an Afghani farmer having all of the documents required to enter Australia in their possession? No! I bet most of them wouldn’t even know what a passport was until it was handed to them and they were told that they were fulfilling Allah’s mission!” Carlton stopped himself before he exploded and released the pressure in his fists. His nails slowly receded from his palms. “You need to collect every Muslim and make sure that they aren’t part of a terrorist organisation.”
“That’s over ten thousand people!” The Prime Minister cried, reeling from the harsh truth that he had no argument against. “The public will never let this happen! There will be riots on the streets before the first one of them is taken into custody. We won’t be able to do this.”
“The public will not stand in your way. Those documents in front of you are already on their way to the media. The moment that they are released and the confirmation comes through that Al-Qaeda sent people to Australia via asylum seeker routes nobody will stand in your way. If they do, you lock them up under the Anti-Terrorism Act 2005 and question their citizenship status and allegiance to this country.” Carlton was building into an argument that he knew would never be able to be denied. “Now is the time to take a radical stand against the terrorists and prove to them that Australia will not cave to terrorism. Show them that you are a government not to be trifled with and if they think that they can ride on the backs of people desperate for protection they are sorely mistaken. Those people who can no longer find safe haven within Australia will understand that this is a necessary evil. It’s a forgone conclusion that the government has to do something extreme about its illegal immigrant processing and taking that process back to the start and re-vetting is just something you cannot avoid. Believe me, Mr Prime Minister, those five men were not alone. There’s a large group of Muslim terrorists who got into Australia and you need to find them before the next attack occurs. Because more attacks will occur and you better do everything in your power to stop them. The former Prime Minister would be chomping at the bit to take action if she had survived the attack. Don’t you think you should honour not only her memory but the memory of the three hundred and twelve other Australians that lost their lives? Especially since you know where the problem stems from. Let the public question you on that.” Carlton sat back in his chair and watched the Prime Minister and every other attending member realise that there was no other option.
After nearly two entire minutes the Prime Minister raised his head and folded his hands beneath his chin. “Alright, here’s what we are going to do,” he began, but never got any further as an explosion rocked the room.
They all hit the floor and slid beneath the large oak table as the room shook violently from the enormous shockwave. Roof panels dropped onto the table and floor as several of the heavy leather chairs tipped over.
Carlton caught the eye of the Prime Minister and without even having to speak a word could see a determined look that told him the attack had removed any hints of doubt that might have remained in the man’s mind. Australia would do whatever it took to become a safe haven from Muslim extremism.