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Thursday, 4 July 2019
Page: 354

National Security


Mr HASTIE (Canning) (14:40): My question is for the Minister for Home Affairs. Will the minister update the House on steps the government is taking to keep the Australian community safe from the threat of terrorism?


Mr DUTTON (DicksonMinister for Home Affairs) (14:41): I thank the member for Canning very much for his question and acknowledge his service to our country in uniform and also now as he chairs the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security. He is one of the smartest minds in this parliament in relation to national security matters and he really leads a great team within the committee. I acknowledge the work that he does.

As we all know, earlier this week over 200 federal police brought to culmination a 12-month investigation in relation to three individuals. It demonstrated—by the arrest of those three individuals in relation to allegations of terrorist related offences—that this threat has not gone away. In September 2014 the threat level against our country was raised to 'probable'. We know that, whilst the police and intelligence agencies have been able to thwart 16 attempted major terrorist attacks in our country, seven have been successful. We have had, as a country, a very high number of people who have gone to Syria and Iraq to fight in the name of ISIL. The threat is not only beyond our shores but, as we know, here in Australia as well. About 230 people left our shores to go and fight overseas. We know that about 100 of those, on the best estimates we can make, have been killed in the theatre of that war. We know that there have been about 100 people within that 230 cohort who have sought to come back home, or we believe will seek to come back home. We know that about 40 are already here.

This government—and the Australian public recognised this at the last election—will do everything that we can to keep Australians safe. We have introduced multiple pieces of legislation, including the encryption laws last year which were questioned by some of those opposite on the front bench but which have directly resulted in Australian lives being saved. That's the reality. This government, in this term, will make sure that we do whatever we can to keep Australians safe. Australian citizens have a constitutional right to return to our country. We need to do that in a managed way. That's why we've introduced a bill into the parliament today to temporarily exclude, for up to a two-year period, some of those Australian citizens that have been working with ISIL that now have the capacity to come back, to put together an IED or to walk into a food court or other place of mass gathering and cause serious death and carnage in our country. We want those opposite, in the Senate, to support our temporary exclusion order regime. It's based on the United Kingdom model. It has worked there and it will work here. It's not a silver bullet but it is another way in which we can work to manage the return of some of these evil people. This government will look to the opposition to stand up and to support this government in every measure we put forward to support the Australian people. (Time expired)