Senate debates

Thursday, 30 November 2023


Attorney-General's Department; Order for the Production of Documents

4:48 pm

Photo of Claire ChandlerClaire Chandler (Tasmania, Liberal Party, Shadow Assistant Minister for Foreign Affairs) Share this | Hansard source

In regard to the ministerial statement that was tabled in relation to the OPD on the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps documents, I move:

That the Senate take note of the document.

It is disgraceful that the government has failed to provide these documents that have been requested by the Senate and are making a public interest immunity claim. The Albanese government knows that the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps is a terror group and they are a threat to Australians. Yet the government have done everything possible to block the IRGC from being listed as a terrorist organisation, despite the fact that we in the coalition have repeatedly offered bipartisan support for the legislation to be amended to enable a listing.

We know because of a freedom of information request—an FOI request from members of the community—that the Attorney-General's Department has these documents but today the government is blocking the release of them. It appears that, in January, the Attorney-General's Department was closely considering a listing of the IRGC. There is no reason for the Attorney-General's Department to be considering listing a group as a terrorist organisation unless they know they are involved in terrorism. We can see from the documents that this FOI revealed that the department was working on a listing, and then somebody in some other part of government came along at the last minute and put a stop to it. This government says that it can't act to list the IRGC as a terrorist organisation, but they are also refusing to release both the advice supporting that claim and the work that had been done on a listing before somebody came along and put a stop to it.

The very first thing this government should have started doing when somebody formed the opinion that the IRGC couldn't be listed is work on preparing legislative amendments so that the IRGC could be listed. That is something that we in the coalition have offered bipartisan support for if that offer ever comes forward. Yet, since they formed that opinion in January, we have been told by the Attorney-General's Department that no work whatsoever has been done on legislative amendments to enable the listing of the IRGC, nor have they been asked to do so by the Albanese government. So the position of this government is that there is a legal technicality stopping the listing of a terrorist group, yet it has done nothing to remove that technicality in 10 months and has no intention of removing that technicality. At every step, the Albanese government is trying to talk down the need for a terrorist listing of the IRGC, and they are hiding details about the IRGC from the public, even though their own argument is that they would do it if the legislation allowed it.

What the Senate has demanded is that the government produce the work that was being done back in January so that we can see how far they got, pick up that work and continue with it. The government has refused to produce it, by claiming somehow that it's not in the public interest to do so. These documents, which the government is refusing to release, will show the Senate and the public exactly what the Attorney-General's Department had got to in its consideration of listing the IRGC.

The ludicrous thing about this is that you can go online right now and read the statement of reasons for the listing of Hamas or Hezbollah as a terrorist organisation. The Hamas statement of reasons states very clearly—indeed they all do—'This statement of reasons is based on publicly available information.' Like I said, that same statement is in every statement of reasons for every listed terrorist organisation, yet this government is claiming that the statement of reasons document developed which talks about the IRGC somehow cannot be released. It is saying it cannot release publicly available information its own department collated about the IRGC, which we know funds Hamas, Hezbollah and Palestinian Islamic Jihad, groups that Australia already recognises as terrorist organisations. The government want to just keep saying, 'We can't do this. We can't do this. We can't do this,' rather than doing the responsible thing and joining with the rest of the Senate, the rest of this chamber, which clearly want to take action to enable a listing.

There is something very, very wrong with this government's determination not to list the IRGC as a terrorist group. Let's remember that there has been an overwhelming call from Iranian Australians over the last few months to list the IRGC as a terror group. But, once again, we see this Albanese government failing to act on a clear matter of public safety and national security—and, goodness me, haven't we spoken about that extensively in this place this week. The IRGC is the organisation that helps fund and train Hamas. It attempts to murder and kidnap critics of the regime. This is the organisation which, right now, at this very moment, is helping its proxies to launch rocket and drone attacks on the US—our biggest ally—in Iraq and Syria. At this very moment, they are helping their proxies to attack Israel.

There is no question: any support for or presence of the IRGC in Australia represents a clear threat to the safety of Australians. It is disgraceful that this government continues to block efforts to hold the IRGC accountable and list it as a terrorist organisation.


No comments