House debates

Thursday, 30 October 2014

Questions without Notice

National Security

2:02 pm

Photo of Ewen JonesEwen Jones (Herbert, Liberal Party) Share this | | Hansard source

My question is to the Prime Minister. Prime Minister, will you inform the House of the steps the government is taking to deal with foreign fighters returning to Australia?

Photo of Tony AbbottTony Abbott (Warringah, Liberal Party, Prime Minister) Share this | | Hansard source

I thank the member for Herbert for his question. Again, I acknowledge the interest he has in national security matters as the representative of a defence seat. Too many Australians, I regret to say, have succumbed to the fanaticism of the ISIL death cult, which is now terrorising wide swathes of Syria and Iraq and is encouraging attacks against countries such as Australia. As we know, about 70 Australians are known to be fighting with terrorist groups in the Middle East. About 100 Australians are known to be supporting these terrorists with recruitment and funding. Regrettably, at least 20 have returned. The best way to deal with returning foreign fighters is to stop them leaving in the first place. I am able to inform the House that some 70 Australian passports have been cancelled to stop terrorists or potential terrorists from travelling. There are two reasons for cancelling passports: it is to protect other countries who should not have to host Australians intent on mayhem and it is to protect us. Australians do have a right to come back to this country and the last thing we want in our streets are people who have been radicalised and brutalised by participation in terrorist activities overseas.

If Australians do come back from fighting with terrorists overseas, it is the government's intention that they should be detained, they should be prosecuted and they should be jailed. The foreign fighters bill that has passed the parliament today will mean that it is easier to secure convictions against Australians who have been fighting with terrorist groups overseas; it will mean that it is easier to monitor potential terrorists here; and it will also mean that it is easier to prosecute the preachers of hate who create the potential terrorists.

I know the Leader of the Opposition does not always appreciate my praise, but it is very sincere when it comes to the support that he has given us on national security measures. As always, I want to say to the Australian people that the government will do everything we can to keep you safe. All of our measures are against terrorism and not religion. You should live your lives normally because the terrorists objective is to scare us from being ourselves.