House debates

Tuesday, 8 November 2016

Questions without Notice

National Security

2:34 pm

Photo of Trevor EvansTrevor Evans (Brisbane, Liberal Party) Share this | | Hansard source

My question is to the Minister for Justice and the Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for Counter-Terrorism. Will the minister update the House on the threat of terrorism? What is the government doing to keep our community safe, the Brisbane community safe and our borders secure?

Mr Rob Mitchell interjecting

Photo of Tony SmithTony Smith (Speaker) Share this | | Hansard source

The member for McEwen has been warned. He will leave under 94(a).

The member for McEwen then left the chamber.

2:35 pm

Photo of Michael KeenanMichael Keenan (Stirling, Liberal Party, Minister for Justice) Share this | | Hansard source

I thank the member for Brisbane for that question. He knows that the threat of terrorism remains real in Australia. Since the national terror threat level was raised in September 2014 we have had four attacks on our soil, and the good work of our agencies has obstructed a further 11. Since 2012 around 200 Australians have travelled to Syria and Iraq to join in the conflict and as many as 68 have been killed. We would expect that number to continue to increase. Around 110 are currently fighting or engaged with terrorist groups in Syria and Iraq, and around 200 people onshore in Australia are being investigated for providing support to individuals and groups in the conflict.

Since 12 September 2014, 53 people have been charged as a result of 23 counterterrorism operations. In addition, there are 39 people currently before the courts for terrorism related offences, seven of whom are juveniles. Around 190 passports have been cancelled by the foreign minister or refused to people who wanted to go and participate in the conflict in Syria and Iraq. Last month we saw the arrest of two young men with knives, allegedly intent on carrying out an act of terror. Last week our agencies arrested two people in relation to foreign incursion offences. Since coming to government, the coalition has worked with our agencies to counter the increased prospect of terror in Australia, funding them an extra $1.3 billion and taking five tranches of legislation through this parliament to increase their powers and their ability to do their job of keeping us safe.

It is very well known that some of the perpetrators of recent terror attacks in Europe entered the target countries illegally. That is why it is absolutely vital for our national security that we maintain the integrity of our borders, and this remains an essential part of our national security strategy.

For the past three years we have continued to clean up the mess that we inherited from the Labor Party: 50,000 unauthorised arrivals, over 800 boats and up to 1,200 people drowned at sea—men, women and children. The Rudd-Gillard-Rudd government gave us this chaos, and the lessons that should have been learnt by the Labor Party during those years have clearly not been learnt, as today they announced that they will continue to stand in the way of the things that we are doing to keep our borders secure. There is a simple lesson from the history of this issue in the parliament: everything Labor did in government, every judgement they made, was wrong. Everything we said needed to be done turned out to be right and was the recipe for stopping the evil people-smuggling trade. That is the lesson the Labor Party should learn, and that is why they should not continue to stand in the way of the things we are doing to keep our borders safe.