Wednesday, 24 November 2021
Questions without Notice
My question is to the Attorney-General, Senator Cash. Can the Attorney-General inform the Senate of how the Liberal and National government is protecting the Australian way of life and ensuring that Australians remain safe from ever-evolving threats of terrorism?
I thank Senator Molan for his question and, of course, I acknowledge his service in helping to keep our country safe. The coalition government's first priority is to keep our community safe from those who seek to do us harm. Since September 2014, when the national terrorism threat level was raised, 144 people have been charged as a result of 71 counterterrorism related operations around Australia; 21 major counterterrorism disruption operations have been undertaken in response to potential or imminent attack planning in Australia; and, sadly, nine Australians have lost their lives.
We know our law enforcement and security agencies are among the best in the world, but we have to ensure that they have the powers that they need. That is why, since 2014, our government has now passed 29 tranches of national security legislation. This legislation has, of course, been crucial in providing our law enforcement and security agencies with the framework and powers needed to identify, target and disrupt those who seek to do harm to Australia, to Australians and to our way of life. However, we now have a significant challenge that has been facing our counterterrorism efforts in recent years. Currently, there are 18 convicted terrorists who are due for release over the next five years and who can still pose a very significant risk to the Australian community. That is why our government has methodically built a world-leading framework to effectively manage those persons over the coming years.
We can't eliminate entirely the risk of terrorism any more than we can eliminate the risk of any serious crime. However, we can take appropriate action. (Time expired)
To the Attorney-General again: how does the recent passage of the high risk terrorist offenders legislation build on and expand the framework that is provided to our law enforcement and security agencies to manage high risk offenders and protect Australians?
As we know from our security and law enforcement agencies, terrorist offenders are typically highly radicalised and often do not change their extremist views whilst they are in prison. Recent tragic events in New Zealand and the United Kingdom remind us of the real and present threat that these offenders do indeed pose. The high risk terrorist offenders legislation introduces extended supervision orders as another tool to keep Australians safe from terrorists. The extended supervision orders will ensure that offenders are subject to close supervision and specific conditions tailored to the level of risk that they themselves pose. These will complement the current regime of control orders and continuing detention orders that are used to ensure that the community is kept safe by managing terrorists after their jail term ends.
The Morrison-Joyce government continues to keep Australians safe from terrorism and from violent extremism. Today we have seen Minister Andrews announce the intention to list The Base and the entirety of Hezbollah as terrorist organisations under the Criminal Code. Listing The Base and Hezbollah as terrorist organisations under the Criminal Code sends a clear message that the Australian government condemns the actions of groups that use terrorism to achieve their political, religious or ideological objectives.
The listings will enable the application of terrorist organisation offences to these groups and align Australia with international partners such as the United Kingdom and Canada. Listing terrorist organisations enables penalties of up to 25 years imprisonment, including if someone is a member of, training with or providing terrorist support to the organisation. (Time expired)