Australia Red-faced over ‘Terror Target’ Security Gaffe

SYDNEY ~ Australia defended security arrangements at its military bases on Thursday after two journalists infiltrated a Sydney barracks allegedly targeted in an Islamist suicide plot.

A Daily Telegraph reporter and photographer spent half-an-hour inside Holsworthy base on Wednesday before being caught, just a day after police said they foiled a major extremist attack on the facility.

Parliamentary defence secretary Mike Kelly said the pair were “messing around with our defence personnel and causing an unnecessary waste of time”, noting a major review of security at military installations was already underway.

He backed Australia’s use of private firms to guard its military bases after revelations of an “imminent” Somali-linked plot to storm Holsworthy, home to thousands of troops, with automatic weapons.

“It’s a much better arrangement than having Diggers (soldiers) wasting their time on the gate when they should be improving their war-fighting skills,” Kelly told Sky News.

“You have to remember that we have a deeply layered system in place that works on the basis of real and known threats,” he added.

“Obviously this was not a real threat and the system did not work in that deeper sense to prevent their intrusion.”

The Daily Telegraph said its journalists were waved into Holsworthy by a lone guard after showing only a driving licence for identification and without going through a security check.

“There was no computer check, no security questions, and the photographer, sitting in the passenger seat, was not even asked his name,” reporter Tim Vollmer wrote.

The newspaper reported that security around the sprawling base on Sydney’s outskirts was also lax with gaps at locked gates and under fences.

Five Australian men of Somali and Lebanese descent have been charged with planning the alleged attack which police say would have been the worst in the country’s history.

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