Thursday, 2 October 2014
Questions without Notice
My question is to the Minister for Justice. Will the minister please inform the House how the government's additional funding to Australia's national security organisations enhance our ability to combat the terror threat?
I thank the member for Petrie for that question. He is a hardworking member doing a good job for his constituents here in Canberra. He is aware—and I think most members would be aware—that the Abbott government is making a significant investment in tackling terrorism and violent extremism. As the foreign minister has alluded to earlier, yesterday we passed through the parliament a new suite of counter-terrorism laws which will significantly assist efforts to disrupt terrorism planning and to bring to justice those Australians who are engaged in or supporting conflicts in Syria or Iraq.
But the government recognises that a legislative reform is only one side of this coin and so in addition to this we are providing our agencies with new and updated tools to counter this evolving threat. We are also going to make sure that they are resourced sufficiently to deal with this challenge. That is why we have committed $630 million over the next four years to enhance the capability and capacity of our law enforcement and intelligence agencies.
Of this, $186 million of this money will be going to ASIO. This funding will be used by them to increase the number of intelligence officers, analysts and technical specialists. The additional staff will increase their capacity to detect and investigate those involved in terrorism-related activities; will provide greater analytical resources to improve ASIO's understanding of the threat posed by these individuals and groups; will strengthen advice to law enforcement agencies to support the disruption of extremist activities; and will also increase the exchange of intelligence between ASIO and foreign intelligence and security agencies.
ASIO makes a vital contribution to Australia's counter-terrorism effort and we have seen this in recent weeks with the counter-terrorism raids made in conjunction with law enforcement agencies. This additional funding will better position ASIO to provide an intelligence edge in the fight against terrorism and those who would seek to do us harm. Tomorrow I will meet with all state and territory attorneys-general and police ministers, along with the heads of our security and law enforcement agencies, under the new Law, Crime and Community Safety Council. The establishment of this council was an election commitment of the federal coalition. The council will ensure information sharing between jurisdictions, and I can tell the House that information sharing between state and federal law enforcement is currently unprecedented. I look forward to being able to engage in further discussion with my state and territory colleagues about how we counter the current threat and to lifting the resources of ASIO. With greater and unprecedented information sharing between agencies, we will be better equipped to ensure the safety of all Australians.