In the past 20 years in Australia, six people have been killed (three of them perpetrators) and 10 people injured in so-called terrorist incidents.
While all these events were labelled terrorism (meaning there was a political rather than personal motivation) there's scant evidence of genuine links to terrorist groups in two of the three fatal incidents – the Lindt Cafe siege and the Parramatta shooting.
All of which says that either Australia is not in significant danger of terrorist activity, or the measures already in place have been extraordinarily effective in preventing such activity.
Preventing men's violence against women, on the other hand, has shown considerably less progress.
At least 71 women were murdered in 2016 alone, and about 80 per cent of those murders were committed by the victim's male partner.
While murder is the ultimate violation, is it far from the only one. When ANROWS did a detailed analysis of the 2012 Personal Safety Survey, they found more than 2.9 million Australian women have experienced physical or sexual violence at the hands of a man known to them. That figure is almost certainly underestimated and does not include all the women who suffer emotional and financial abuse from their partners.
By way of context, Chicago is the third-most populated city in America, and it still wouldn't be big enough to hold all the women who've been abused in Australia.
If all those numbers remained stable, it would take more than 1000 years for the number of people killed by terrorism to equal the number of women killed by their partners in one year.
The federal government currently spends $35 billion on national security and $160 million on domestic violence each year. If you average that spending out over the past 20 years' worth of victims, simple arithmetic puts it at $53 billion per person affected by terrorism and $55 per woman affected by male violence.
The details of the new Dutton super ministry aren't yet available, but it seems likely the set-up cost will not be small. And while some of the arguments about reducing double handling make sense, you have to wonder why we need to spend yet more money on fixing something that doesn't appear to be broken.
No one could rationally suggest that we shouldn't spend some money and effort on national security, and global events clearly show it is important that police and security agencies are well resourced and able to detect and prevent terrorist activity.
But the hugely disproportionate response to an unproven threat and the utter lack of interest in a proven threat just doesn't make any sense – unless it's the perception of the perpetrators, not the victims, that matters.
The perpetrators of what the government calls terrorism are the ones we are constantly told to fear. Hate-filled radicalised Muslims determined to rain death and destruction upon us all. It's the myth and the fantasy of conservatives that all nice (i.e. white) people in Australia will live in constant fear of that bogeyman.
And the endless barrage of that message appears to be working. Recent Essential polling shows that over 70 per cent of Australians are concerned about the risk of terrorism and 46 per cent think we should be spending more on anti-terrorism measures. It's difficult to believe rational Australians truly think we should be spending more than $53 billion per person on terrorism, but it unlikely they think of it in those terms.
There's no limit to what we will spend to fend off the object of our irrational fears.
The perpetrators of family violence, however, are not so immediately recognisable or mythologised. They are Bob from down the road who waves at you when you walk your dog past his garden. They are the men you play footy with on the weekends, the guy who sits across from you at work, and the benign-looking chap next to you on the bus. The violence they commit against their partners and children is far more common and deadly than the violence we are told to fear from Islamic extremists, and yet we still think of it as a personal matter, not the political attack that defines terrorism.
But, as Clementine Ford wrote a couple of years ago, "… domestic violence IS terrorism. Some people argue otherwise, claiming that terrorism by definition is the use of force to prompt political change. But what could be more political than the reinforcement of domestic-based masculine dominance and patriarchal leadership via the use of fear, violence and recriminations?"
Three innocent lives over 20 years versus 71 innocent lives in one year. Despite our perceptions of the level of threat, the facts say it's just not even close.
Government policy and spending decisions should not be based on unreasoning fears, particularly when it comes to protecting the lives and safety of its citizens.
If the Turnbull government was truly concerned about saving Australian lives, rather than shoring up the notion that The Left is Soft On Terrorism, they would be moving some of the national security resources onto the genuine threat to our national security – men who commit violence against women and children.
This article was written by Jane Gilmore and was copied from here.