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Counter terrorism review.
COUNTER TERRORISM REVIEW
The terrorist attacks on the United States last year revealed that we are now operating in a new security environment. The Bali bombings tragically brought that directly and personally home to Australians.
Today I am announcing some initial and urgent measures agreed by the government following the Review of Commonwealth Counter-Terrorism Arrangements that I commissioned after the tragic events in Bali last week.
These new measures build on the very substantial improvements to our counter-terrorism capability that were announced as part of this year’s Budget, when we committed $1.4 billion over 5 years.
The Review concluded that, since September last year, our counter-terrorism arrangements have been substantially strengthened but that more could be done to further enhance those arrangements.
The government is committed to ensuring that Australia has every tool it needs to prosecute individuals who engage in heinous crimes like those in Bali. In order to ensure that Australia can effectively cooperate with the broadest range of countries in bringing such people to justice, including through mutual legal assistance and extradition on the basis of dual criminality for murder, the government is introducing an extra-territorial murder offence, which may form the basis of cooperation in this and other cases where Australians have been victims of atrocities abroad. The legislation will operate retrospectively from 1 October this year. This new legislation will be additional to existing offences relating to acts of terrorism, in the nature of the Bali bombings, that already have extra-territorial effect.
We will establish a standing reward of up to half a million dollars, in addition to the $2 million reward announced specifically in relation to the Bali bombing, for anyone providing information leading to the conviction of a person for an indictable offence contained in our counter-terrorism legislation.
We will also
â¢ provide the Department of Immigration and Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs with additional funding of $12.3 million over five years to employ additional Airline Liaison Officers (ALO). The ALO programme has already proved to be effective in identifying and countering document fraud and strengthening our visa security arrangements which are designed to let us know who is entering our country.
â¢ provide additional funding of $15 million over four years to the Australian Customs Service to assist in the detection of fraudulent travel documents.
â¢ further enhance the capabilities of ASIO and ASIS to respond to the threat of terrorism.
â¢ expand the air security officer programme as a matter of priority to include selected international flights. Air security officers have been operating on selected domestic routes since December last year.
â¢ provide additional funding of $31.7 million over five years to the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade to increase physical security at Australia’s overseas posts.
Counter-terrorism prevention of, and response to, a terrorist incident is a responsibility shared between the Commonwealth, States and Territories. For that reason, I am pleased that Premiers and Chief Ministers joined with me today to sign the Inter-Governmental Agreement on Australia’s National Counter-Terrorism Arrangements and to discuss the current security environment, issues flowing from the Bali attacks and opportunities for further cooperation. We will continue to progress these issues at the meeting of the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) next month.
To ensure that the Commonwealth optimises its arrangements for strong policy coordination between the Commonwealth, States and Territories, I have asked my Department to take on the lead role for counter-terrorism policy coordination. The Attorney-General’s Department will continue to have responsibility for operational coordination on these issues.
The Government is committed to protecting its citizens here and abroad. The events in Bali have shown that Australia is not immune from the large-scale destruction of human lives that terrorist action can bring about.
The war against terrorism is not a war against Islam. The measures that the Government announced after the 11 September attacks and that I announce today do not target particular religious or racial groups within our community. These measures are aimed at terrorists, whatever their faith, whatever their race. These measures are aimed at protecting our tolerant Australian community, not dividing. They are aimed at pooling our collective resources to combat terrorism, wherever it occurs and whatever its form.
24 October 2002