Thursday, 3 December 2020
Questions without Notice
My question is to the Minister for Home Affairs. Will the minister update the House on how the Morrison government is working to keep Australians safe from the threat of terrorism and violent extremist ideologies?
I thank the member very much for his question. He, like all Australians, wants to make sure that we can keep our country safe. We know that during the period of COVID there are many terrorist organisations and people that seek to propagate that information, that ideology, the sick, perverted views that they have to other young impressionable minds who are on the internet, not only in our country but across the Western world as well. So it's absolutely the fact that this threat has not gone away, and the record amounts of money that we're putting into ASIO, the Australian Federal Police, AUSTRAC and other agencies within the Department of Home Affairs is all directed at keeping Australians safe. We want to make sure that we can deal with the threat whenever it may eventuate, and, as Australians know, since September 2014 we've now had 117 people charged as a result of counterterrorism operations—a very significant number—and there are now 22 people currently before the courts for terrorism related offences. These are people that would seek to do significant harm to Australians. What we've seen in Paris, in the United States, across Asia, the Middle East et cetera are the sorts of atrocities that these people would seek to perpetrate on innocent men, women and children in our country, and we are working day and night to make sure that they are not successful.
I want to commend the work of the Queensland Joint Counter Terrorism Team, made up of officers from the Queensland Police Service, the Australian Federal Police and ASIO, for the work that they've done in thwarting a most recent alleged attack. In relation to that matter, people will know that the allegation is that a Canberra resident was arrested and charged only last Friday, and the allegation before the court at the moment is that that individual was planning to conduct a terrorist attack in the Bundaberg region in the name of an extremist Islamic ideology. Whether it's in our capital cities or our regional cities, we know we need to make sure that we are supporting our agencies, which we are absolutely doing. I think all Australians will recognise that over Christmas and the new year period this year our officers will be working 24/7 on the front line. There are many people in the Department of Home Affairs who will support their work, and I commend those officers for the work that they do to keep us safe.
This government has now passed 20 tranches of national security legislation, many at the request of the director of ASIO or the commissioner of the Australian Federal Police, to make sure that we have the most modern and up-to-date laws, particularly dealing with the reality of encryption and the way in which these terrorist groups hide the spreading of their evil messages on the internet. We'll continue to work day and night to keep Australians safe. (Time expired)