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Monday, 22 September 2014
Page: 9896

Mr BYRNE (Holt) (10:15): I will be talking around three very comprehensive reports in the space of about five minutes. I would like to start my remarks by commending all the reports to the House, particularly those on the listing or relisting of the particular terrorist organisations. I also commend the committee secretary, Dr Anna Dacre; Julia Searle, the inquiry secretary; and Renee Toy, who was the researcher. I thank my fellow committee members, who worked in a bipartisan way to deliver a bipartisan and impartial report in challenging circumstances.

I specifically want to talk about and amplify the chair's concerns with respect to the relisting of the terrorist organisations and to point out that the reports on the review of the listing of Boko Haram for the first time and the review of the relisting of the Islamic State were conducted under the Criminal Code. I want to talk about Boko Haram briefly. The parliament joint committee has completed its review process for the listing of Boko Haram as a terrorist organisation for the first time in this country and the process for the relisting of the Islamic State as a terrorist organisation. The committee was satisfied, as the chair said, that the correct procedures were followed and the decisions to list Boko Haram and to relist Islamic State as terrorist organisations were appropriately made.

On the history of Boko Haram, it is a Salafist Islamic movement, largely based in Nigeria, where they intend to establish an Islamic state and implement sharia law upon the populace. There are allegations that Boko Haram has ties with both the al-Qaeda affiliate al-Qaeda in the Lands of the Islamic Maghreb and al-Shabaab. The chair went into the statement of reasons for the listing of Boko Haram, which included the 29 terrorist attacks that were attributed to them between 2011 and 2014. They are also well known in Australia and around the world for the kidnapping of more than 200 girls from a secondary school in Borno state. They have released videos threatening further attacks and have advocated the perpetration of terrorist attacks. They have not engaged in substantive peace negotiations and they have now been listed as a terrorist organisation by the United Nations, Nigeria, Canada, New Zealand, the United States and the United Kingdom.

I would also like to comment on the Islamic State, as the chair also made comment on previously. The Islamic State has previously been listed, first in 2005 and then 2007, under a former name. As quoted from the report, the Australian government relisted the group under the name Islamic State on 11 July 2014. The listing as 'Islamic State' does not reflect a change in the leadership, membership or methods of the group but does reflect the expansion of its operating area and the announcement of an Islamic caliphate. The land claimed by the Islamic State extend from Aleppo in Syria to Diyala in Iraq, including Sunni dominated areas of both countries.

There was a very thorough process that we undertook in listing or relisting these organisations. I think it is important to put on the record—particularly given the listing of the Islamic State, as it now likes to call itself, although we do not accept the terrorist nomenclature that it uses to falsely establish its primacy in the region—that the public should be reassured with respect to the listing, particularly given what occurred with the raids conducted by our intelligence and security agencies in the past couple of days.

I would like to put on the record on behalf of the committee our thanks to both the security services and the intelligence services for the work they do. The Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security occupies a very unique space in parliamentary and public life. It is subjected to comprehensive and classified briefings about intelligence agencies. From time to time that does go into operational activity. I can say with some measure of confidence, on behalf of the committee, that the work of the intelligence and security agencies, particularly in addressing the terrorist threat, is strong. The public should be reassured about the work that it is doing to deal with the current threat that it is dealing with. There has been a lot of community concern about what is transpiring in our community as a consequence of the raid. If there is one message I could put to the Australia people, they should be reassured in the quality and the value of our security agencies. They thwarted a terrorist attack on our soil, and I have full confidence in them continuing to do so in the future.