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Australia again boosts border security

By CNN's Grant Holloway in Sydney

Memorial service
PM John Howard said the Bali attacks showed Australians they were not immune from global terrorism

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CANBERRA, Australia (CNN) -- Australia will further tighten its border security, particularly at airports, as part of a new package of anti-terrorism measures.

The federal government and State and territory leaders met Thursday in Canberra to approve the new measures which have been introduced in response to the Bali bomb attacks of October 12.

More than 180 people were killed in those attacks, the majority of them Australian tourists.

A standing reward of $225,000 is being offered by the government for information leading to the conviction of any person on terrorism charges. That is in addition to the $1.1 million offered for information specifically relating to the Bali blasts.

Amongst the measures introduced Thursday are extra funds to hire more airport officers to help identify and counter document fraud and strengthen visa security.

The Australian Customs Service will also get an additional $8 million to help detect fraudulent travel documents.

The numbers of security officers on internal flights will also be increased, as will resources for Australia's intelligence agencies ASIO and ASIS.

Another $17 million will also be provided to boost security at Australia's foreign embassies and consulates.

In announcing the new measures, Australian Prime Minister John Howard said the government was "committed to ensuring that Australia has every tool it needs to prosecute individuals who engage in heinous crimes like those in Bali."

To this end, a new offense of "extra-territorial" murder was introduced to complement recent legislation relating to terrorism perpetrated outside of Australia.

Australia had already boosted its counter-terrorism budget by another $800 million for the next five years in the wake of the September 11 terrorist attacks on the United States.

"The events in Bali have shown that Australia is not immune from the large-scale destruction of human lives that terrorist action can bring about," Howard said.

He reiterated that the war against terrorism was not a war against Islam and the new measures did not target particular religious or racial groups.

"These measures are aimed at protecting our tolerant Australian community, not dividing (it)", Howard said.

Military protection

"They are aimed at pooling our collective resources to combat terrorism, wherever it occurs and whatever its form."

The new security measures will also attempt to provide better co-ordination and co-operation between federal and state agencies in the case of a terrorist attack and improved sharing of intelligence information within Australia.

However, a proposal by Bob Carr, the leader of New South Wales state, that vulnerable sites be protected by the military was not approved.

Carr wanted sites such as the Lucas Heights nuclear reactor in the southern suburbs of Sydney to be guarded by defense personnel if the individual states requested such action.

Carr said he took the threat of terrorism seriously: "It is no longer an abstraction, no longer a CNN news item."



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