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Examining the legitimacy of Australia’s preventative counter-terrorism measures between 2002 and 2019

Cooper, Robyn (2020) Examining the legitimacy of Australia’s preventative counter-terrorism measures between 2002 and 2019. Masters by Research thesis, Murdoch University.

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After Al Qaeda undertook a series of orchestrated terrorist attacks against America in 2001, the United Nations Security Council mandated that States were to implement domestic legislation to appropriately deal with terrorist acts in a manner that would reflect the serious nature of such offending. Accordingly, Australia responded by introducing counter-terrorism measures designed to reinforce its domestic security environment, with an emphasis placed on preventive approaches. These measures have been greatly divisive, with some arguing that they represent an unnecessary and dangerous departure from liberal democratic standards, whilst others believe they are essential to protect the Australian community. This research aims to evaluate the legitimacy of these introduced measures based on a conceptual framework influenced by Alexander George’s work, whereby policy legitimacy can be evaluated on two fronts; desirability and feasibility.

The first front, also referred to the normative component of policy legitimacy, represents the degree to which a policy is consistent with a society’s national values and norms. An evaluation of the policy’s desirability through the exploration of introduced measures and of the debates centred around these measures from the perspective of Parliament, the public and the Judiciary serve to gauge the level of legitimacy. The second front, or cognitive approach, explores the feasibility of a policy, whereby a government must demonstrate that it is able to achieve the long-range objectives of its policy. In this case, multiple case studies of instances where the preventative policies have been applied assist to evaluate whether the policies have been feasible since their inception.

With the overarching purpose of this thesis being to evaluate whether the preventative aspect of Australia’s post 9/11 response is considered legitimate under George’s theory, it finds that whilst the policy may be considered feasible, there are serious concerns as to whether it can be considered desirable.

Item Type: Thesis (Masters by Research)
Murdoch Affiliation(s): Global Studies
United Nations SDGs: Goal 16: Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions
Supervisor(s): Makinda, Samuel, Wilson, Ian and Haigh, Yvonne
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