House debates

Monday, 2 December 2019

Questions without Notice

National Security

2:35 pm

Photo of Christian PorterChristian Porter (Pearce, Liberal Party, Attorney-General) Share this | Hansard source

When the AFP's time isn't being wasted by the shadow Attorney-General, they have the capacity to investigate matters like terrorism. That's what they do. That's what their real job is. Very sadly, the threat of terrorism is very real. We in this place know that 16 terrorist plots have been foiled. We have, unfortunately, had seven terrorist attacks. The tragic events in United Kingdom, again on London Bridge, are obviously the subject of our country's deepest sympathy to the victims and to their families, but those events are also a very real illustration of a very real risk. That is a risk that our government has acted very swiftly and strongly to counter. That is the undeniably high risk that individuals who have undertaken violent terrorist acts exhibit a very high tendency to reoffend. The evidence of that phenomenon in Australia is undeniable. Of the 30 Australians who fought and trained with extremist groups between 1990 and 2010 in conflict zones, including Pakistan and Afghanistan, 25 returned and eight of those were convicted of terrorist-related offences. Very sadly, the recent London Bridge accused, Mr Khan, was in 2012 convicted for an al-Qaeda-inspired plot to attack the London Stock Exchange and to start a terrorist training camp in Pakistan-controlled Kashmir. The sentencing judge at the time described Mr Khan has a serious jihadi who should not be released until he was no longer a threat to the public.

Right now in the Senate our government's critical counterterrorism bill is presently being debated. That bill goes to precisely the type of risk that we've seen in this recent terrorist attack in London—that is, the risk to the community of people reoffending once they are released, after they have had terrorist links or committed terrorist offences. The government bill ensures that anyone who has links with terrorists, who has shown support for other terrorist activities, will have a standing presumption against bail for other Commonwealth offences and will not be released on parole unless there are absolutely demonstrable exceptional circumstances. It also provides that continuing detention orders can be levied against the individual irrespective of whether the last day they serve in jail was on a state or on a federal offence. The absolutely critical nature of those laws arises from the fact that we have seen in England and in Australia that people who have links and who have offended with respect to terrorism have a very high risk of reoffending. At the moment there are 54 individuals serving sentences for Commonwealth terrorism offences, and 10 are due for release by the end of 2020. This is critical legislation and demonstrates how the government takes this issue with the utmost seriousness.

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