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Thursday, 21 June 2018
Page: 68

Senator FAWCETT (South AustraliaDeputy Government Whip in the Senate) (15:59): On behalf of the Chair of the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security, I present the three reports of the committee listed at item 14 on today's Order of Business, entitled Review of the re-declaration of Mosul District, Ninewa Province, Iraq, Review of the re-listing of Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, Jaish-eMohammad and Lashkar-e Jhangvi as terrorist organisations under the Criminal Codeand Review of the re-listing of Hizballah's External Security Organisation as a terrorist organisation under the Criminal Code, and I move:

That the Senate take note of the reports.

The declared area provisions of the Criminal Code make it an offence for people to enter or remain in an area of a foreign country that has been declared by the Minister for Foreign Affairs. The first report I've tabled today concerns the minister's recent renewal of the declaration of the Mosul district in Iraq. Under the legislation, the committee is able to review a declaration and report its findings to the parliament within 15 days of the disallowance period. Due to the timing of the re-declaration of Mosul, the recommendations made in the committee's recent Review of the Declared Area Provisions were not able to be factored-in to the Minister for Foreign Affairs' declaration; however, those recommendations were considered during both the private hearings and in the committee's deliberations.

The committee concluded that the appropriate processes have been followed and, after the private hearings, accepted that a listed terrorist organisation, the Islamic State, continues to engage in hostile activity in the Mosul district, Ninewa Province, Iraq. While Islamic State no longer exercises territorial control over Mosul district, territorial control is not currently one of the key non-legislative factors outlined in the protocol for declaring an area. The committee has supported a suggestion from ASIO that the existing protocol be expanded to include the extent to which a listed terrorist organisation exercises territorial control over an area, and other key factors relevant to the declaration of an area. The committee supports the re-declaration of Mosul district and finds no reason to disallow the legislative instrument.

The second and third reports I have presented today concern the relisting of terrorist organisations under the Criminal Code. Under the Criminal Code, it's an offence to direct the activities of, be a member of, associate with or conduct a range of activities in support of a listed terrorist organisation. The Criminal Code enables the committee to review all listings of terrorist organisations and report its findings to the parliament within the 15-day disallowance period. In relation to the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, Jaish-e-Mohammad and Lashkar-e Jhangvi, each of these terrorist organisations continues to engage in and advocate terrorism. Although there are no known direct links between any of the organisations and Australia, and none have made statements specifically threatening Australia or Australian interests, or would consider Westerners, including Australians, to be legitimate targets for attack, sometimes the indiscriminate nature of their attacks and the disregard for loss of life means that Australians could be caught up in such attacks. All three are listed as proscribed terrorist organisations in Canada, the United Kingdom and the United States. They are also listed in the United Nations Security Council 1267 Committees Consolidated List. None are engaged in any peace or mediation process.

The committee is satisfied that the appropriate processes have been followed and concludes that these three organisations continue to meet the definition of a terrorist organisation. The committee finds no reason to disallow the legislative instruments.

Finally, Hezbollah's External Security Organisation, the ESO, is a discrete branch or entity within Hezbollah's military wing. The ESO is positioned alongside, but distinct from, Hezbollah's formal militia and military activity. The ESO has an ongoing program of contingency planning for terrorist activities around the world; provides training, operational support and materiel to Palestinian extremist groups; and is not engaged in any peace or mediation processes. At a private hearing, the committee sought clarification as to why the Criminal Code listing is limited to the ESO. The Department of Home Affairs advised that any broadening of the listing—for example, from Hezbollah's ESO to its military wing—would have implications for Australia's bilateral relationship with Lebanon.

The committee was satisfied that appropriate processes have been followed and that the ESO meets the definition of a terrorist organisation under the Criminal Code. Consequently, and on this occasion, the committee supports the relisting of the ESO as a terrorist organisation and finds no reason to disallow the legislative instrument. However, the committee did not consider that adequate evidence was provided regarding the decision not to include the military wing of Hezbollah in the listing. The committee also noted that the proscription of the ESO is now inconsistent with the approach taken by some of Australia's closest security partners: Canada, New Zealand, the United Kingdom and the United States. Accordingly, the committee recommends that the government further consider extending the listing to include Hezbollah's military wing.

I commend the reports to the Senate and seek leave to continue my remarks later.

Leave granted; debate adjourned.