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Monday, 15 June 2009
Page: 5968

Mr RUDDOCK (8:43 PM) —I intend to speak in support of the report and the remarks of the chair in relation to the continued proscription of these six organisations. They were organisations initially listed as terrorist organisations in 2003, and each of them had been listed on the United Nations list of terrorist organisations. They came up for review under the new legislative arrangements passed by parliament in 2004, and the committee therefore reviewed the first re-listing of these organisations in 2005. Following this, the committee again reviewed these re-listings in June 2007. So this is the third review of re-listing of these six terrorist organisations. The chair has been through a brief outline of the circumstances which lead us to a view that the Attorney has properly listed these organisations.

In the report is some useful information to help guide those who are interested in understanding the sorts of criteria that apply in relation to listing organisations. ASIO’s guidelines, as they were outlined to us in evidence in 2005, include factors such as engagement in terrorism, ideology and links to other terrorist groups or networks, links to Australia, the threat to Australian interests, proscription by the United Nations or like-minded countries, and engagement in peace and mediation processes. The committee noted that these guidelines are indicators only and not formally set out in the act but has found them a useful tool in its deliberations. The committee continues to use these guidelines to assist it in relation to its reviews.

The Federation of Community Legal Centres made the point to us that, in the case of six organisations, the statements of reasons did not identify that any of the organisations in question have links to Australia. I note that the committee’s view is that it is a misunderstanding of the statutory scheme to suggest that listing of an organisation with no identifiable links to Australia exceeds the scope of the legislative intent or is a misuse of power. The committee takes the view that, while direct links to Australia are not a statutory prerequisite, links are appropriate considerations in the selection of organisations for proscription. I think it is important because in the context of threats to Australia’s interests they can be posed to our citizens abroad as well as our interests that extend beyond the territorial boundaries of Australia. They are matters that were relevant to the committee in its deliberations in relation to these particular organisations.

I continue to be impressed with the quality of the deliberations of my colleagues on these matters. I have seen the other side of the wicket, as it were, and believe that they bring a very mature deliberation to this task. I think it is one of the most important tasks that parliamentary committees can be engaged in. The committee is assisted by a very able secretary. I see Robert Little in the advisers’ box; he is the inquiry secretary. I say to him and his colleagues that we very much value your collective efforts and the work that you undertake to ensure that in relation to these very important deliberations we are well informed and able to fulfil our responsibilities.

I commend the report of the committee to the House and assure honourable members that these matters are important. They are important for securing the safety of the broader Australian community based here and abroad. I am delighted to be associated with this particular report.