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Monday, 3 November 2003
Page: 21735

Mr CREAN (2:40 PM) —My question is to the Attorney-General and it follows his last answer and his claim that he needs increased powers to proscribe the terrorist organisation Lashkar-e-Taiba. Has the government made application to the United Nations Security Council for the al-Qaeda linked organisation Lashkar-e-Taiba to be listed as a terrorist organisation? Has the government requested the opposition for specific legislation as it did in the listing of Hezbollah? If not—if it has done neither—on what basis does the government claim that its existing powers are inadequate when it has made no attempt to use the powers that it already has to address this security threat?

Mr Wilkie —Come on—

The SPEAKER —Member for Swan!

Mr RUDDOCK (Attorney-General) —I made it abundantly clear that we do not believe that we should be captive to some other organisation every time we want to list an organisation that our intelligence organisations tell us presents a real threat to the security of Australia and the region. That is the point we make. We do not think we should have to go—

Mr Crean —Mr Speaker, I rise on a point of order on relevance: my question was very specific. Has he sought—

The SPEAKER —The Leader of the Opposition will resume his seat. The Attorney-General's answer, by any interpretation of the standing orders, is relevant.

Mr RUDDOCK —I make it clear that we do not believe that every time we want to list an organisation of concern to us here in Australia we should have to go, cap in hand, to another organisation to ask them whether they will give us permission to list it. That is the view we take. What we seek is legislation from you that will enable us as Australians to be able to make the determination as to what is in our interests.

Honourable members interjecting

Mr RUDDOCK —We believe, quite frankly, that we should have the same capacity to be able to deal with these issues as they have in the United States, in the United Kingdom and in the European Union—that is the reason. The fact is that what the Labor Party wants is that each time, no matter how urgent the request, we have to wait until the United Nations gives us approval or we have to wait until we can get a bill into this parliament—a bill that has to go through every stage, with the potential for further committee deliberations—and through both chambers—

The SPEAKER —I warn the member for Braddon! I warn the member for Swan!

Mr RUDDOCK —of the parliament. They believe that that sort of process, in relation to dealing with potential terrorist threats to Australia, is quick, efficient and timely. I can tell you that that is not our view.