Thursday, 2 October 2014
Questions without Notice
My question is to the Minister for Foreign Affairs. Will the minister update the House on the government's efforts to starve terrorist organisations of funds and fighters? How will new laws support the work of our security agencies?
I thank the member for Bass for his question and I recognise his fine record of over 30 years service in our Defence Force.
Honourable members: Hear, hear!
Yesterday this parliament passed national security legislation containing targeted measures to improve the laws governing Australia's intelligence agencies, and this legislation is another vital measure in protecting Australia from the increasing threat of terrorism. Subject to appropriate limitations and safeguards, this legislation will modernise ASIO's warrant based intelligence collection capabilities and enhance the ability of our overseas intelligence agency to target the activities of Australian foreign fighters in Iraq and Syria.
The government is also determined to starve terrorist organisations of the resources they need, including financial. Anyone who supports terrorist groups is playing a part in the atrocious and violent acts that these groups commit and is putting Australian lives at risk. The consequences of participating in terrorist financing are severe, and penalties of up to life imprisonment can be imposed on those found guilty. We are funding additional analysts and new intelligence systems to significantly enhance our ability to detect the flow of funds to terrorist groups, and this will help prevent Australian foreign fighters from receiving financial support. Our agency AUSTRAC is already taking action and recently suspended the registration of a financier.
Australia is also taking a leading role internationally to shut down sources of terrorist finance. As chair of the United Nations Security Council Al-Qaida Sanctions Committee, we are working with other countries to combat terrorist financing, including by freezing the assets of listed terrorists and imposing travel bans against designated individuals.
Australia recently co-sponsored a UN Security Council resolution on foreign terrorist fighters which requires all nations to prevent and suppress the financing of terrorists, their travel and their activities. Recently Australia assumed the presidency of the international Financial Action Task Force, and in that role we are promoting effective legal, regulatory and operational measures to combat terrorism financing globally. Australia is playing its part militarily, humanitarian-wise and as part of the international effort to starve terrorist organisations of funds, of fighters and of weapons. Australia will play its part in the international coalition to combat terrorism in all its forms.