Tuesday, 12 November 2019
Questions without Notice
No Money for Terror Conference
I thank Senator Stoker for her question. Last week, Australia hosted the second No Money for Terror international conference. I acknowledge and thank France for its leadership in convening the first of the No Money for Terror conferences, in 2018, and acknowledge India for offering to host next year's conference. I also want to acknowledge Mr Dutton and Home Affairs for their work in convening the Melbourne meeting.
The goal of these conferences is to work across international boundaries to close loopholes for terrorist financing. We had attending the Melbourne meeting some 81 delegations, representing 67 countries and jurisdictions as well as 14 international organisations, and almost 20 of those delegations were led by ministers or minister equivalents. The Minister for Home Affairs, the Attorney-General and I ran sessions during the conference which were important opportunities for Australia to engage and lead on these issues. We discussed the international and regional threat environments, global responses to kidnap for ransom and the effect of emerging technologies on terrorism financing risks. We also considered how we can enhance public-private partnerships in the context of the No Money for Terror theme, because the engagement of the private sector is obviously pivotal in terms of the movement of money, and how we can take a collective security approach to preventing the exploitation of not-for-profit organisations for terrorism purposes.
Indeed, the private sector was well represented on the second day of the event in recognition of the fact that, in countering terrorism and making sure our civil society organisations are not exploited by terrorists, it has to be a whole-of-community undertaking. We know that governments can't defeat terrorism or their support networks by acting alone. We need a whole-of-society approach if we're to achieve collective security, and that was the approach taken during the No Money for Terror Conference.
As part of our commitment to combating terrorism, the Australian government has a longstanding policy across governments that it does not pay ransoms. Daesh accrued up to US$45 million from kidnappings between September 2013 and September 2014 alone. Kidnapping contributed about US$89 million to the al-Qaeda war chest between 2013 and 2017.
It's important to note that, as ransoms have been paid more frequently, so the ransom price has gone up. In the early 2000s we saw payment for hostages demanded in the tens of thousands of dollars. Now it's as much as $5 million per case. Kidnap for ransom, unfortunately, is an important and reliable literal revenue stream for terrorist groups, which we are determined to disrupt. In the kidnap for ransom section, French foreign minister Jean-Yves Le Drian, New Zealand justice minister Andrew Little and UN CTED director Michele Coninsx contributed. (Time expired)
Briefly, I can advise that in 2019 the UN, the G20 and the ASEAN Regional Forum have all sought to focus attention on the link between ransoms and terrorism. In fact, UN Security Council Resolution 2133 specifically:
Calls upon all Member States to prevent terrorists from benefiting directly or indirectly from ransom payments or from political concessions and to secure the safe release of hostages;
The UN Security Council resolution gives a foundation upon which actions from the No Money for Terror Conference can be pursued, and we'll continue to work with other countries towards a common approach to kidnap for ransom.