Security remains an issue – alert not alarmed, vigilant not a vigilante


By Peter Strong . On 14-Nov-2015


Small Business people and the nation’s security

National Security Hotline 1800 1234 00    www.nationalsecurity.gov.au

(This is an updated article from one published in The New Daily in January 2015)

In my role as COSBOA CEO I have met with officials from the Commonwealth Attorney-General’s Department (AGs).  They sought the meeting to discuss the national security threat posed by individuals making explosives from commonly available chemicals. These chemicals are widely available throughout the small business sector whether it’s retail, manufacturing or transport. I left the meeting concerned about the nature of this threat, but also very sure about the role that our sector can play in preventing the worst from happening.

What we discussed was the current security situation in Australia and even though the officials did not want to alarm me they certainly wanted COSBOA and small business people to be aware that the threat posed by terrorism has grown in recent years and that people need to be alert and aware of anything suspicious and report that to the relevant authorities.  They see the small business community as a key part of our country’s security awareness.

The terrible event in Paris has reinforced the view that small business people are in a position to be affected by tragedy and also to spot suspicious behaviours and events.

There are over 2 million small business people in Australia.  We are truck drivers, retailers, hairdressers, farmers, real estate agents, financial advisers, newsagents, café and restaurant owners, wholesalers, contractors, builders, fitness advisers, health experts, tradespeople and the like.  We cover nearly all aspects of our society and importantly we are found in all communities.  We have always been part of the security awareness of our communities. Normally this is keeping an eye out for potential thieves and felons or working with authorities and fellow business operators to identify fire traps and safety problems or just being there when needed.  Often a local small business, perhaps a newsagency, cafe or a pub, is a place people go to for news and to share news during local and national crisis.

We are perhaps like most other Australians, we are reluctant to “dob on” people when we have no real evidence; or perhaps we just don’t think it is right to contact authorities because that is not the Australian way. Sadly times have changed, our nation is at the highest level of security alert since the days of the World Wars. All of us, not just small business people, have to get over our reluctance and make that necessary phone call to the security line and then leave it to the authorities, they will do what is best.  Being vigilant doesn’t make us vigilantes, we don’t have time to be annoying busy bodies, but we can make a phone call. A vigilante is too busy to run a business.

Interestingly in writing this article I also felt that maybe I was being an alarmist, maybe I should just leave the issue alone. I have discussed the article with various people including a sociologist, fellow COSBOA team members and also my colleague Kate Carnell, who is the CEO of the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACCI) and a previous long term Chief Minister for the Australian Capital Territory as well as an owner of a community pharmacy. Kate who has comprehensive experience on broader community matters agrees and supports the call to small business people to be aware and be prepared to report anything they believe is not right. That support is valued and appreciated.

Let’s face it by the nature of business when we are in or near our business premises our awareness is naturally enhanced.  Any recent change in local conditions will be noticed and any strange person or event will be watched with suspicion until proven good.  When operating our business we will also note any odd business transaction, this is particularly important for, say, small business people in the financial sector where money laundering is a concern for security agencies and where even access to loans for strange activities can shed a light on unlawful behaviour.  Banks can monitor activities through technology and reports but the small business person can also see the people involved and they will know when something is odd that a report might not highlight.

I know stock and station agents will note and report any odd purchases of agricultural chemicals.  This can apply equally to many industries with access to chemicals including: hairdressing; panel beating and auto repairs; most trades such as painting; retailing; cleaning; transport and many others.

As mentioned previously the people from AGs did not want to alarm us and were very keen to make sure we did not alarm anyone else.  We did however agree that a message needs to be sent to all small business people – if you see something odd or someone acting suspiciously or something that just doesn’t feel right then don’t be alarmed but do contact the authorities and let them know your concerns. The authorities will deal with the issue in a professional manner.

We will be providing our member organisations with information on this issue for their newsletters and indeed our National Small Business Summit to be held in Sydney in July 2015 will have one theme around the capacity of small business people to spot and report security concerns.

In the end this reinforces my belief that small business people are not just the backbone of the economy but we are also integral to our culture, our social cohesion, our well-being, our health and our security, whether that be national or local security, we see what is happening and if necessary will report our concerns.

So, yes, we can and should report suspicious behaviour to the right authorities.

The contact number and the website information is:

National Security Hotline 1800 1234 00    www.nationalsecurity.gov.au

 

About the author

Peter Strong

  • COSBOA AGM, Council Meeting & Business Leaders Dinner – 25 October 2017

    19-Sep COSBOA COUNCIL MEETING & BUSINESS LEADERS DINNER 25 October 2017 Hotel
  • Historical MOU with Business Council of Australia

    29-Aug Last week we had a very successful Vodafone National Small
  • ALPs Access to Justice – it’s time to be nice

    14-Aug COSBOA today acknowledged the importance of the ALP’s legislation on ‘Access to Justice’ when
  • COSBOA Submission: Inquiry into Sunday Penalty Rates

    03-Aug COSBOA's submission to the Inquiry into Sunday Penalty Rates is below: Thank you for the opportun
  • COSBOA’s Cash Economy Submission

    02-Aug COSBOA provided a submission to the Standing Committee on Tax and Revenue who are conducting an inqu
  • COSBOA Communique – Business Continuity & CyberSecurity

    28-May Cyber Security, telecommunications failures, power blackouts, website failures, disaster
  • The Cyber Security Issue – COSBOA Council Meeting: 24 May 2017, Hotel Kurrajong, Canberra

    15-May   Cyber Security hit the headlines over the wee
  • Fairness in Competition Gets Ever So Close

    24-Mar COSBOA today congratulated the government on the approach to changes to Section 46 of the Competitio
  • SmartCompany: Let’s focus on the issues that unfairly affect women who run their own small businesses

    08-Mar Peter Strong's article for International Women's Day in SmartCompany: As a bloke I can only c
  • Save the Date: VODAFONE NATIONAL SMALL BUSINESS SUMMIT 2017: 23-25 August 2017

    02-Dec 
  • National Contract Fairness Day! It’s arrived

    10-Nov Let’s celebrate the coming of fairness – the start of better innovation,
  • Who pays for double dipping in paid parental leave?

    24-Oct There are several ways of working out who pays for the double dipping in paid parental leave (PPL).
  • Payment of invoices – Australia comes last

    18-Aug Australia has easily found itself in last place when it comes to paying invoices on time.  We come
  • Competition in the Boardroom – a play in one act

    11-Aug At COSBOA we receive all sorts and we were lucky enough to be sent a small business play that reall
  • Census 2016 – Embracing Change

    10-Aug The events last night with the Census should not be used to attack and criticise or indeed to make u
  • Communicate, Engage, Involve, Communicate – that’s what a successful pack of dogs will do.

    16-Jul The Greyhounds decision is a great example of decision making gone wrong.  Perhaps the decision was
  • Contribute to the Campaign

    10-Jun After the article in The Australian 
  • COSBOA Vodafone National Small Business Summit Registrations Open!

    27-May It’s exciting when the months of planning start to come to fruition and the registrations for the
  • Pay taxes, stop dodging, stop playing games

    11-Apr The CosBullet – Tax collection needs fixing Below is an edited excer
  • 29,000 people support the government’s decision on the effects test – let’s get back to business

    30-Mar Petition to be presented to Kelly O’Dwyer at 2.30pm in the Minister’s office in Canberra
  • The Thinkers Hub – A Small Business Poem

    01-Mar It was somewhere up the country in a town built from rock and scrub That they formed a little busine
  • Is Competition policy decided by a few mega businesses and their union?

    19-Feb The development of better competition policy in Australia is vital to our future.  It is vital for
  • Penalty Rates: Sunday, fairness & jobs

    27-Dec There is a lot of carry-on around penalty rates.  The ideologues of the left want this to be a wedg
  • Security remains an issue – alert not alarmed, vigilant not a vigilante

    14-Nov Small Business people and the nation’s security National Security Hot
  • Tax reform can be managed – see Howard

    12-Nov Tax reform can be managed as long as we are all part of the reform process. Tax re
  • How many duopolies does it take to change a light globe in an aged care home?

    17-Oct In all the debate about the changes to Section 46 of the competition legislation (and the weird over
  • Latest argument for NOT having an Effects Test is just as silly as all the others.

    23-Sep  Trigger warning – Some jargon,
  • The dominant few big businesses are yesterday’s economy

    15-Sep Congratulations to Malcolm Turnbull and commiserations to Tony Abbott. With the change of Prime M
  • Our Champions are under threat from greedy, vested, rich corporate and union muscle

    11-Sep In the world of politics and influence there are some basic facts,
  • Misleading headlines don’t help the cause

    10-Sep Recently I was interviewed by The Guardian about the Effects Test and I made the normal comments and
  • When it’s your money – the game changes

    05-Aug The recent focus on politician's allowances and expenditure reminded me of a story I heard some year
  • Shopping Centres still playing with the facts

    26-Jul Shopping Centre Council misses the mark – as always Recently the Shopping Centre
  • Peter Strong’s National Press Club Address – 1 July 2015

    01-Jul COSBOA's CEO, Peter Strong delivered an address at the National Press Club on Wednesday, 1 July 2015
  • Peter Strong to Address National Press Club

    23-Jun Our CEO Peter Strong will address the National Press Club on Wednesday 1 July 2015.  Australia curr
  • COSBOA Chair addresses Maltese Chamber of Commerce

    17-May COSBOA Chairman and CEO of the Real Estate Institute of Australia (REIA) Amanda Lynch was in Malta r
  • Can we regulate the regulators?

    17-Apr Now is the opportunity to get information to the Productivity Commission, and through them the gover
  • 2.5 million people deserve better

    21-Mar COSBOA is extremely disappointed that we will once again have a new small business minister. The sm
  • Submission to the Senate Inquiry into the new Anti-Discrimination Acts

    05-Jan COSBOA Submission to the Senate Inquiry into the Exposure Draft of Human Rights and Anti-Discriminat
  • The Year that was -2012 – and the Year that will be – 2013 an election year

    19-Dec Please see our review of 2012 and needs for 2013
  • NAB and COSBOA announce new secondment to enable greater collaboration

    14-Dec COSBOA is pleased to announce the secondment of Janett Egber from National Australia Bank (NAB) who
  • Simplicity in Legislation Creates Productivity

    20-Nov This is an article written by John Strong,
  • New Taxation Commissioner – what does it mean for the self employed?

    14-Nov The government has announced the replacement for Michale D'Ascenzo (a great small business supporter
  • Small Business Champion for 2012 – Ondina Gregoric

    04-Nov It is with great pleasure that the Council of Small Business of Australia announces Ondina Gregoric
  • Coles and Woolies – still bullies

    03-Nov Great
  • Small Business in Asia – an example

    28-Oct Examples of some businesses established by Jaquillard Minns in Philippines during the last 5 year
  • Asian Century? Small business people are there already.

     COSBOA welcomes the release of The Asian Century White Paper today by the Prime Minister J
  • Is there a sea change in the way small business is viewed and treated?

    14-Oct Is something happening in Canberra around small business?  There have been some significant changes
  • Join the COSBOA board and other members at the October dinner with guest speaker Minister for Small Business, The Hon. Brendan O’Connor and Steve Lewis from the Canberra Press gallery

    11-Oct Book the 30th of October for a dinner at the National Press Club where our guest speakers will be Br
  • Australian Livestock and Rural Transporters Association

    05-Oct The ALRTA are members of COSBOA and they,
  • No job is better than $15 or $24 an hour? How?

    03-Oct COSBOA has provided a submission to the Senate inquiry into the Fair Work Act and penalty rates.  C
  • Submission to the Senate Inquiry into Penalty Rates

     Submission to the Fair Work Amendment (Small Business – Penalty Rates Exemption) Bill 2012
  • Join the COSBOA board and other members at the October dinner with guest speaker Minister for Small Business, The Hon. Brendan O’Connor.

    18-Sep Book the 30th of October for a dinner with Brendan O'Connor and other members and guests of COSBOA -
  • A Carbon Tax Calculator in the language of small business people – cash flow!

    23-Aug Why do we need a
  • Peter Strong’s Address to the National Press Club on 8 August 2012

    22-Aug Thank you ladies and gentlemen and special thanks and acknowledgement to the Deputy Chair of COSBOA,
  • How to define a small business? (well firstly we are all people)

    16-Aug Just what is a small business?  We currently have a range of definitions by a range of government a
  • The 2012 Economic Forum, the Asian Century and Innovation

    15-Aug COSBOA has two representatives at the Prime Minister’s Economic forum to be held in Brisbane this
  • Big win for owners of small trucking businesses – about time too

    19-Jul Congratulations to the Australian Livestock and Rural Transporters Association