Monday, 22 February 2021
Questions without Notice
My question is to the Minister for Home Affairs. Will the minister update the House on how the Morrison government is backing our national security agencies and personnel with the funding and resources they need to keep Australians safe?
I thank the honourable member for his question. The Morrison government are absolutely committed to keeping Australians safe at all times, including during the time of this global crisis. We have demonstrated that to the public, and indeed the world, over the course of the last 12 months or so. I really want to praise the work of our border officers who have implemented the emergency measures. We have had Border Force officers working around the clock dealing in a compassionate way in compelling circumstances with people who may have lost a loved one and with people who have to travel for different reasons, including those who needed to come to Australia. The department and Australian Border Force have now approved 37,000 inbound requests and more than 120,000 outbound requests.
The department has also assisted with the virus response efforts directly, including with the ACIC through collaboration with Dutch authorities, CSIRO and UQ. ACIC, with their particular expertise, were able to pivot their investigative technologies to detect fragments of the virus in wastewater, which to this very day has provided assistance to state and territory authorities to identify where in the community the virus may be present.
The ABF has also during this pandemic continued to work hard day and night to stop dangerous drugs, including ice, from ending up in the Australian community. We know the scourge of ice in our capital cities and in particular in our regional areas. I know this is of particular concern to the member and his community on the Sunshine Coast. We continue that work with our international counterparts.
In the budget we bolstered support to the Australian Federal Police by some $300 million over four years. As we've reported to the House on a number of occasions, we have worked very hard to deal with the surge in online child exploitation as people spend more time than ever online. I want to highlight the work of a company associated with the University of the Sunshine Coast which does amazing work, and I know the member for Fisher is very proud of it—the work of IDCARE. Through the Australian Cyber Security Strategy 2020, our government has provided $6.1 million to bolster services available through IDCARE to victims of identity insider crime. As we know, many of those people who would otherwise have been conducting their criminal activities on the streets in our cities have gone online to target vulnerable Australians—in particular, older Australians.
The work of the Australian Centre to Counter Child Exploitation continues with Operation Molto. They have arrested 65 offenders and charged them with 525 offences. Most importantly, 18 children have been removed from harm. I want to really congratulate those officers for the work which they continue to do in our name.