The arrest of an Indian doctor (Mohammed Haneef) based in Queensland in connection with the attempted terrorist bombings in Britain is a fearful development for Australia. This takes the number of arrested doctors to 6 in total. As I write another doctor is being interviewed in Queensland although as yet he has not been arrested.
The arrest strengthens my conviction that a terrorist attack within Australia is inevitable. While the probability of any individual being killed or injured is low the damage to Australian society will be significant (though contained). To the people harmed it will be little comfort that they were the unlucky ones.
Haneef came to Australia on a 457 visa. Screening procedures for these visas clearly should be reviewed and attention directed to what are clearly high risk categories. It would be prudent to tighten eligibility for entry into Australia under this class of visa. Skill shortages need to give way to more important considerations. Most importantly, are security concerns being overlooked when supposedly skilled potential migrants are being considered for entry?
As a matter of long-term planning I am assuming that the most stringent eligibility restrictions are being applied to the regular immigration program and the refugee/humanitarian program. We are admitting 144,000 under the regular program and 13,000 under the humanitarian program in 2006/07. A low error rate here in detecting terrorists here, if maintained over a number of years, would significantly augment supplies of local terrorists and leave us in the position of Britain.