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Contest Two and counter extremism: Lessons for Australia

By Anthony Bergin

This year the Rudd government will issue a counter-terrorism white paper. In the preparation of the new white paper, this Policy Analysis, authored by Anthony Bergin, examines what Australia can learn from the UK approach with respect to domestic counter extremism policy. The UK released its new approach to countering the terrorist threat, called Contest Two in March this year.

It recommends an array of policy measures, from resourcing the Attorney-General’s Department to developing a counter extremism strategy and addressing how information about best practice is filtered down to the local level, to establishing a federal information hub of other countries’ counter extremism programs to see whether there are any lessons to apply within Australia, and changing the funding guidelines to allow the federal Department of Immigration and Citizenship to support projects that would tackle online radicalisation. 

Australia should challenge and disrupt those who propagate a violent philosophy. We shouldn’t flinch from verbally confronting those promoting intolerant, separatist and anti-democratic doctrines.  

All Australian governments must tread a fine line between respecting the right to free speech and dealing with those who promote extremism. Confronting those spreading intolerance will, however, be widely supported by the overwhelming majority of Australia’s Muslim communities who are committed to constructing a more inclusive society.