6 Aug 2009

Reporters invade army base at centre of terror plot

9:51 pm on 6 August 2009

Two journalists have managed to enter the Holsworthy army base in Sydney on Thursday, just a day after five men were arrested for an alleged terrorism plot to attack it.

The Daily Telegraph newspaper told the ABC that the base's private security guards let the journalists drive in. It says the men, wearing plain clothes, only had to show their driver's licences to be waved inside.

The paper says reporter Tim Vollmer and a photographer spent 30 to 40 minutes taking photos before being spotted by defence personnel.

The military staff called police, who arrested the pair and charged with them an offence that dates back to 1903: unlawfully sketching, drawing, photographing or painting fortifications. They have been granted bail.

The arrests came just hours after Prime Minister Kevin Rudd ordered an inquiry into Australia's defence installations, amid calls from the Opposition for unarmed private security guards to be replaced with armed soldiers.

Mr Rudd said the review would look at whether it was appropriate to keep using private security firms, but he said the Chief of the Defence Force believed the existing arrangements were adequate.

It was the second time the owner of the Daily Telegraph, News Limited, had thrown itself into controversy in as many days. The organisation has been accused of risking lives by publishing the details of Tuesday's counter-terrorism raids before they happened.