Detailed aerial photographs of Australia’s military bases are available for less than $20 on the internet, eight months after a former architect was arrested for allegedly downloading such images as part of his terrorism plans.
The Weekend Australian was easily able to download the photographs and buy maps of the nation’s electricity grid, just as prosecutors claim Faheem Lodhi did in order to help him carry out a planned attack.
Lodhi faced a committal hearing in Sydney this week charged with plotting to bomb the national electricity grid and key military bases.
Prosecutors alleged in court that Lodhi, who has not been required to enter a plea and whose hearing resumes on Monday, bought two maps on the internet and downloaded 37 photos of bases including HMAS Penguin, Victoria Barracks and Holsworthy Army Base, all in Sydney.
About $3billion has been spent across all arms of government protecting this country from terrorism since the September 11 attacks.
Despite this security blanket, holes still exist. The Weekend Australian this week viewed 20 aerial photos of the same three bases each for $19.80 through a local property website – no questions asked. The photos showing buildings, roads and carparks could be downloaded instantly.
Another $90 bought a colour-coded map from the Energy Supply Association of Australia’s internet site showing power stations, substations, transmission networks and gas pipelines. A glossy map was received by post within days.
Furthermore, inspections by The Weekend Australian of electricity substations around the country uncovered lax security. A wire fence topped with barbed wire is all that protects one station in Melbourne supplying the city’s inner suburbs. One part of the fence is rotting wood badly and in need of repair. A nearby wire gate is locked with one padlock.
One of the three biggest substations supplying power to Brisbane is a short walk from a main road. Signs warn that the station is under electronic surveillance but this newspaper was not stopped or approached when it took photographs.