Tuesday, 2 December 2014
Questions without Notice
Thank you, Senator Fawcett. That is an important question and it comes from a senator who takes a very close interest in national security matters. Earlier today the parliament passed the Counter-Terrorism Legislation Amendment Bill (No.1) 2014. That bill addressed urgent operational needs identified by our intelligence, defence and law enforcement agencies.
The number of Australians with hands-on terrorist experience who have been trained in the Middle East theatre with terrorist trade-craft is now several times greater than it was during the conflict in Afghanistan some years ago. Recent operations Bolton and Appleby, and the attack on two Victorian police officers on 23 September, serve as a sober reminder of the security threats we face. One of the key amendments which the bill makes is to strengthen the control order regime in the Criminal Code, to help disrupt those who provide support to terrorists and terrorist groups—something that was vehemently opposed in the committee stage by the Greens, I might say. The AFP is advised of cases where control orders were unable to be applied for under the existing regime in respect of individuals of serious security concern—namely, people who were supporting or facilitating terrorists or foreign fighters. That gap has been closed.
The bill also closed pressing legislative gaps and limitations in the Intelligence Services Act that have emerged in the context of the Defence Force's operations in Iraq against ISIL—again, reforms vigorously opposed by the Greens. Importantly, these changes will improve the capacity of ASIS to provide timely intelligence support to ADF operations, including in emergency circumstances.