The Courier Mail, Sydney Morning Herald, The Telegraph, SBS World News Australia

A terrorist attack in Australia would significantly damage the country's vibrant multicultural community, federal Attorney-General Robert McClelland says.

While the threat of terrorism was small, an attack would be extremely damaging to community harmony, Mr McClelland said today.

He was speaking at a conference about the decade since the attacks of September 11, 2001, hosted by the United States Studies Centre in Sydney.

Australia had not been immune to the planning and activities of violent extremists in the past ten years, Mr McClelland said.

"Since 2000, there have been four major terrorist plots disrupted in Australia," he said.

In that time, 23 people had been convicted on charges relating to terrorism plots and 38 had been charged.

"Significantly, 37 of the 38 people prosecuted are Australian citizens and 21 of the 38 were born in Australia.

"For this reason, the government has focused on the risk of vulnerable individuals in Australia becoming radicalised to the point of being willing to use violence."

Mr McClelland mentioned the US government's past belief that the country's 'melting pot' culture meant it was immune to recruiters trying to radicalise American citizens.

"We too in Australia have a vibrant multicultural community and those who would commit extreme acts are very small ... they are active but fortunately very small," he said.

"But the damage they could do, not only to our physical environment - and of course loss of life and injury would be a tragedy - but what they would do to that community harmony and that vibrant multicultural community would be another thing altogether."

Addressing the causes of radicalisation leading to violent extremism was a priority for the federal government, Mr McClelland said.

A unit in the attorney-general's department was dedicated to engage with community leaders "from a range of religious, ethnic and cultural backgrounds", he said.

These community leaders had expressed concern that they had "the most to lose" in the event of a terrorist attack.

Since 2001, the Australian government had increased the national security budget from $18 billion to $33 billion, he added.

Robert McClelland was recently a keynote speaker at the