House debates

Thursday, 30 October 2014

Questions without Notice

National Security

2:07 pm

Photo of Jason WoodJason Wood (La Trobe, Liberal Party) Share this | | Hansard source

My question is to the Minister for Foreign Affairs. Will the minister advise the House how the government is starving terrorist organisations of funding?

2:06 pm

Photo of Ms Julie BishopMs Julie Bishop (Curtin, Liberal Party, Minister for Foreign Affairs) Share this | | Hansard source

I thank the member for La Trobe for his question and note his experience and deep interest in counter-terrorism. In the fight against terrorism, being able to starve the terrorists and the terrorist organisations of logistics and funding is absolutely essential. Terrorists and terrorist groups cannot operate without logistical support or financial support. So cutting off the money supply undermines their fundamental ability to carry out terrorist activities or acts of violence.

As a member of the UN Security Council and particularly as Chair of the Al-Qaida Sanctions Committee, Australia is taking a lead role internationally to shut down sources of terrorist financing. This year that committee has listed three major new terrorist organisations: al-Nusra, ISIL and Boko Haram. Australia is fully implementing our international obligations and we are certainly helping other countries in our region do the same. It is a serious criminal offence under Australian law to support terrorism, support terrorist groups or to support terrorist organisations of any sort. The consequences are severe. There are penalties of up to 10 years imprisonment for people who are guilty of financing terrorism or terrorist activities; up to 25 years for other terrorist related activities.

Targeted financial sanctions have been imposed on around 400 individuals or entities engaged in terrorism financing under our counter-terrorism sanctions regime. Last month the government suspended the registration of a remittance service in Western Sydney over concerns it was engaged in terrorism financing. This month a Melbourne-based remittance service was suspended for its links to money-laundering and terrorism activities.

A report last month by AUSTRAC, and our agency responsible for tracking illicit financial flows under the responsibility of the Minister for Justice, a report called Terrorism financing in Australia, has shown that, while terrorism financing continues to pose a significant risk to Australia, our security agencies are keeping the flows of terrorism financing to a minimum. But we cannot be complacent about this. We have committed $20 million of the overall $630-million counter-terrorism package for new analysts and for new to intelligence systems so that we can enhance our financial intelligence to detect funders of terrorism in Australia. The government is taking all necessary steps to combat terrorism and to keep Australians safe.