Tuesday, 23 July 2019
Counter-Terrorism (Temporary Exclusion Orders) Bill 2019, Counter-Terrorism (Temporary Exclusion Orders) (Consequential Amendments) Bill 2019; Second Reading
The government will not be accepting the opposition's proposed amendment. The government accepted 17 of the committee's 19 recommendations and noted the remaining two. The two noted recommendations were not accepted in full because to do so would weaken and undermine the TEO scheme and increase risks of terrorism to the community. Of the two noted recommendations, recommendation 11 proposed that the threshold criminal liability for a breach of an offence provision in the bill should be knowledge of. This threshold is above the criminal law standard of recklessness and it would, in effect, make the prosecution of offences under the act almost impossible. Amending these offences to be based on knowledge rather than recklessness would therefore reduce the deterrent effect.
Likewise, recommendation 12 proposed that a TEO can only be made if the minister reasonably suspects that the person is or has been involved in terrorism-related activities outside Australia. Requiring the minister to suspect the person is or has been involved in terrorism-related activities is a high threshold to achieve. In many cases, the specific conduct of a person's interest in terrorism offshore is unclear. In other cases, agencies may simply not yet have undertaken an assessment of the person before they seek to travel to Australia. Given that the fundamental purpose of the TEO scheme is to ensure that agencies have sufficient time to assess the potential risk of a person of terrorism interest before that person returns to Australia, the bill facilitates this by providing that the minister may make a TEO in one of two circumstances. Firstly, the TEO can be made by the minister to assist in preventing terrorism-related acts from occurring. Secondly, the minister may make a TEO where the person has been assessed by ASIO to be a direct or indirect risk to security for reasons related to politically motivated violence. The government has carefully considered the committee's recommendations and believes it has achieved an appropriate balance. As I stated, for this reason the government will not be supporting the amendment.