Was it linked to the election campaign? Was it linked to Australia's involvement in Iraq? Was it linked to the complete and utter failure of the Australian government to adopt fundamentalist Shari'a law?
Without all the facts being at hand, any speculation would be premature and, well, speculative, which of course has never stopped any previous speculation. Of course any discussion of the attack needs to begin with the usual caveats... 1. Condolences to all the victims and 2. This was an act of terrorists distorting rather than expressing a religious faith.
It seems naive to dismiss the possibility that this was timed strategically to influence the result of the Australian, and potentially Indonesian, election results. The bombing may lead voters in both constituencies to doubt the virtue of their national governments, and consider the potential for change. The Madrid scenario may be playing itself out again, with an electorate already discontented with their national leadership giving extra motivation to keep their country out of the international spotlight. The pain from the train in Spain may happen again.
Was Iraq a contributing factor to Australia being targeted? Maybe, although it's worth remembering that nations with various positions on Iraq have all been targeted in terror attacks in recent times. Two French journalists kidnapped, bombings in Turkey, all challenge the idea that Australia is an increased target. It's also worth repeating that the first time Australia become a major target was in Bali in October, 2002, five months before Australia had committed troops.
There's probably much truth to Howard's line on these things, that we are not being targeted for what we've done, but for who we are. Unless Australia is prepared to make fundamental changes to it's way of life, then those who commit acts of terror will not be satisfied.
The worst possible response would be a panicked electorate which lets itself be spooked by what happens. It would be wrong to either rush to condemn the incumbent for increasing our visibility as a target, or to nestle in the comforting bosom of a father figure. Whether either of these happen will be revealed in the next few days, and it seems inevitable that national security will be catapulted to the front page... again. This is unlikely to help Latham with his health and education pitch, and will no doubt see Howard dust off his 2001 strategy for an encore. Things just got interesting.