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PM 'sexed up' terrorism document: Abbott. -

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ELEANOR HALL: But first to Canberra. Yesterday he said the Government was using it as a
smokescreen. Today the Coalition leader Tony Abbott accused the Federal Government of "sexing up"
its White Paper on counter-terrorism.

He was basing his claims on Fairfax media reports that the Prime Minister ordered the language in
the document to be hardened, to emphasise the threats from jihadist groups and from home grown

This morning, the government introduced new bills into Parliament, to give Australia's spy agency
ASIO powers to investigate people smuggling syndicates and criminals.

In Canberra, Sabra Lane reports.

SABRA LANE: For months, the Opposition's accused the government of being a soft touch on the issue
of asylum seekers, pointing to an influx of boats since the government changed its policies in
August 2008 and the near capacity detention centre on Christmas Island.

Partly in response to that, the government's proposing to broaden ASIO's abilities, to allow it to
spy on people smuggling masterminds and operations, as well as some cross border crimes like drug

The Attorney General Robert McClelland introduced the bills into Parliament this morning.

ROBERT MCCLELLAND: ASIO is currently limited to using its intelligence capability in relation to
prescribed heads of security, which don't include border security threats. The amendments contained
in the bill will enable ASIO to specifically use its capabilities to assist the whole of government
effort in combating people smuggling and other serious threats to Australia's territorial and
border integrity.

SABRA LANE: The new powers will mark a major shift for ASIO.

Currently it's only allowed to collect information, if it involves a direct threat to Australia's
national security.

But the Attorney General says the changes won't take ASIO's focus off terrorism.

ROBERT MCCLELLAND: ASIO is a substantial organisation; its priorities will remain counterterrorism.
There's no question about that.

SABRA LANE: Under the changes, there'll be new offences, like a maximum penalty of 20 years jail
for people smugglers who expose others to death or serious harm.

And there'll be penalties for those found guilty of giving material support to smugglers and that's
in response to concerns held by senior ministers that recently some Australian nationals seemed to
have an in-depth knowledge of boats and their occupants, even before they'd been intercepted off
the Australian coast. Again, Mr McClelland.

ROBERT MCCLELLAND: We're aware of that and obviously there are various elements of intelligence
that come in and these things collectively were a motivator of the amendment we're proposing.

SABRA LANE: The Shadow Attorney general, George Brandis, says the opposition will support the
bills, but says ASIO can't be expected to do more with less.

GEORGE BRANDIS: If ASIO is expected to do more work, it must be given additional resources. Now the
other point I would make: it's curious that the Attorney General has introduced this bill this
morning, when yesterday we had the long delayed publication of the counter terrorism whitepaper.
The counter terrorism whitepaper had virtually nothing to say about people smuggling and yet the
two issues are at one level related because there is a relationship between who we let into our
borders, who we let into the country and our capacity to engage in protecting the Australian people
from terrorist activity.

SABRA LANE: Based on what you've been saying there has been some discussion in the Coalition about
bringing back temporary protection visas. Are you firm on that, will you bring them back?

GEORGE BRANDIS: Policies will be developed by the Coalition and announced prior to the election and
I think I'll leave that to the spokesman on immigration matters, Mr Morrison, to detail where the
policy development is at. But the one thing you can be reassured of is that just as the Liberal
party, when we were last in power, stopped the people smugglers through tough measures. Were the
Australian people to put us back in charge in the election this year, we would also take tough
measures to stop the people smugglers.

SABRA LANE: Also on the counter terrorism white paper, the Opposition Leader Tony Abbott pounced on
claims in Fairfax papers today, that Kevin Rudd had ordered the language in the document be
hardened to emphasise the threats.

TONY ABBOTT: It seems that the Prime Minister and his office have deliberately sexed up a national
security document in what almost seems like a script directly lifted from the Hollowmen The Prime
Minister appears to have been caught red handed playing politics with national security.

SABRA LANE: The Prime Minister's office has denied the claims, and dismissed the attack. A
spokeswoman says if Mr Abbott believes the threat of terrorism to Australia has been exaggerated,
he should clearly explain which elements and provide the evidence.

Counter terrorism white paper Critics also say while the document spotlights the threat of home
grown radicals; it doesn't detail any new policies to deal with it. But the Attorney General says
watch this space.

ROBERT MCCLELLAND: There will be programs announced in the budget.

ELEANOR HALL: That's the Attorney General, Robert McClelland, ending that report by Sabra Lane.