updated 11/1/2005 9:18:49 PM ET 2005-11-02T02:18:49

Australian authorities have received intelligence about a specific terrorist threat to the country, Prime Minister John Howard said Wednesday.

Speaking in a nationally televised press conference in Canberra, Howard declined to give details of the threat, which he said authorities received this week.

“You will understand that there are sensitive operational matters and I cannot and will not go into further detail,” he said.

“I don’t want to overstate the situation, but I don’t want to understate it,” he added.

There has never been a major terrorist attack on Australian soil, but the country’s citizens and diplomatic outposts have been hit repeatedly in recent years by bombings — most notably in Indonesia.

Howard’s announcement came as his government was in the process of pushing tough new anti-terrorism laws through Parliament before Christmas.

He said that he was pushing a newly amended part of the legislation through Parliament later Wednesday to help law enforcement agencies fight the threat.

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