Chapter 4: National Security and International Policy

Homeland and Border Security Division


The division provides advice, coordination and leadership on combined, whole-of-government strategies, priorities and policies for Australia's homeland and border security. Our approach to national security is encompassed by an 'all hazards' approach—addressing areas of critical infrastructure protection, non proliferation, counter-terrorism, law enforcement, border protection, transport security, security of hazardous materials and emergency management.

In 2009-10, our key areas of work included:

  • producing the first coordinated national security budget in partnership with Finance and the Treasury
  • developing the first National Security Priorities to guide efforts across the national security community and ensure the effective use of resources
  • development of legislation to establish the Office of the Independent National Security Legislation Monitor
  • leading the effort to establish an executive development program in national security, and establish the National Security College at the Australian National University, launched in April 2010
  • working with AGD in response to the Victorian bushfires:
    • engagement with the Royal Commission and response to its interim recommendations
    • development of a telephone-based emergency warning system
  • revising for COAG agreement the National Action Plan for Pandemic Influenza (NAP) and associated documents following the 2009 outbreak of H1N1, in consultation with states and territories and other Australian Government agencies, and
  • supporting strong outcomes for Australia at the Nuclear Security Summit in April 2010 (see the special feature).


Through the National Security Adviser (NSA) we led the review of Australia's aviation and border security arrangements following the attempted bombing of Northwest flight 253 on Christmas Day 2009. This review resulted in a comprehensive package of enhancements to Australia's already strong aviation and border security regime.

In partnership with DFAT, we worked to facilitate the launch of the final report of the International Commission on Nuclear Non-proliferation and Disarmament (ICNND) entitled Eliminating Nuclear Threats: A Practical Agenda for Global Policy Makers. We also worked with DFAT to develop the Australian Government's response to the report leading to the 2010 Review Conference of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty held in New York in May 2010. We provided support to key government areas in relation to the ratification and implementation of the Convention on Cluster Munitions.

We provided successful leadership and coordination in the national security community on the implementation of the recommendations of the Report of the Review of Homeland and Border Security (HBSR) and the priorities announced by the Prime Minister in the National Security Statement (NSS). Implementation is progressing over a two-year period and is on course to be completed by December 2010.

Performance evaluation of the national security community is a central element of the National Security Strategic Policy Framework. This year, the NSA prepared a baseline report detailing progress in building a national security community and the development of key national security priorities. The 2010 performance evaluation of the national security community, undertaken with the assistance of an independent expert, gauged the impact, effectiveness, and robustness of national security actions through an examination of how well the community had performed against the Government's national security policy priorities and responded to changes in the security environment during the 2009-10 financial year.


PM&C provides the permanent chair and secretariat support for the National Counter-Terrorism Committee (NCTC), which coordinates Australia's counter-terrorism arrangements and comprises officials from Australian Government agencies, state and territory first ministers' departments and police services.


KPI: Satisfaction of the National Counter-Terrorism Committee with secretariat support provided to the committee.

The National Counter-Terrorism Committee (NCTC) provided informal feedback expressing satisfaction with the secretariat support provided by PM&C.

During the year we:

  • provided joint leadership to the National Crisis Coordination Capability Program, which includes the establishment of the Parliament House Briefing Room (PHBR) and the Crisis Coordination Centre as the two key deliverables
  • supported leadership of the Australian Government Crisis Committee and the National Crisis Committee (NCC) meetings during the prevention phase of the multi-jurisdictional counter-terrorism exercise (Mercury 10)
  • supported Australia's participation in the National Level Exercise 2009 under the auspices of the US Department of Homeland Security National Exercise Program. This is the first major exercise conducted by the US Government focusing on terrorism prevention and protection, rather than incident response and recovery.
  • contributed to the 2010 review of the National Counter-Terrorism Handbook
  • developed the Australian Government Crisis Management Framework and supporting doctrine for the PHBR and the National Terrorist Situation, and
  • through the Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear Security Sub-Committee of the National Counter-Terrorism Committee, led a series of scenario workshops to assess the capability and capacity of states and territories to prepare for, respond to and recover from chemical, biological or radiological attack, strengthening national CBR arrangements.


Through the interdepartmental Homeland and Border Security Policy Coordination Group (HPCG), the division supported the delivery of whole-of-government policy aimed at safeguarding homeland and border security. HPCG took a proactive role in identifying and guiding work that required strategic consideration, including long-range policy responses on areas such as border security, technology and cyber-security, counter-terrorism, crisis response and analysis of Australia's homeland security environment. We ensured HPCG guided the implementation of policies requiring extensive, unusual or precedent-setting coordination between departments, agencies or other public and private organisations.


We led a COAG-initiated review of Australia's arrangements for managing natural disasters following the Victorian bushfires of February 2009, resulting in COAG's agreement in December to adopt a resilience-based approach to disaster management. This represents a fundamental shift in the way Australian governments work together to assist individuals, business and communities better prepare for, and respond to, disasters.

PM&C also worked with AGD to establish a new National Emergency Management Committee (NEMC) comprising all jurisdictions (and co-chaired by the Deputy NSA) to provide strategic leadership on national emergency management policy and to develop a strategy to implement the resilience paradigm.

During 2009, PM&C chaired a working group to review Australia's arrangements for critical infrastructure protection arrangements. Its recommendations, endorsed by COAG in December 2009, focus on improving the understanding of critical infrastructure issues and how governments work together to address them, include a shift in emphasis from critical infrastructure protection to resilience, and established the National Critical Infrastructure Resilience Committee (NCIRC) as the national coordination and consultation forum on critical infrastructure resilience matters.

We provided briefing and support to the Prime Minister and NSA in response to natural disasters and crisis situations at home and abroad, including the Samoa/Tonga tsunami and Sumatra earthquake in September 2009.

We supported the NSA's review of Commonwealth Disaster Response arrangements to improve the speed of Australia's response to domestic and offshore disasters. Improvements identified included speeding up ministerial approval processes and enhancing coordination by appointing the NSA as co-chair of the key crisis response coordination bodies.


PM&C's border protection policy coordination and advisory role is delivered primarily through the Border Protection Working Group. This role includes providing secretariat support to the Border Protection Taskforce chaired by the National Security Adviser. The working group comprises PM&C officers and secondees from relevant agencies.

The group coordinates the government's management of the irregular maritime arrivals challenge and any associated national security issues. We provided successful leadership coordination, briefing and support in a range of areas both regionally and onshore. Key achievements supported by the group include negotiation, in partnership with DFAT and other agencies, of a framework with Indonesia governing operational cooperation between our countries to combat people smuggling and the trafficking in persons.