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Monday, 25 June 2018
Page: 6217


Mr WOOD (La Trobe) (18:16): I rise to speak on the Counter-Terrorism Legislation Amendment Bill (No.1) 2018. First of all, I fully concur that the control order sunset clause be extended. As part of the Intelligence and Security Committee, I thank all the members, and in particular the chair of the committee, Andrew Hastie, for the work they have done. The committee works in a bipartisan manner and actually gets excellent results.

One issue I've always been greatly concerned about is the preventative detention legislation, in regard to law enforcement or police never having the ability to question a person under what we call a PDO. The way this would work if a person were under a preventative detention order is that they would need to be released and arrested under part 1C of the Crimes Act. The difficulty with this—and I've always had this as a former counterterrorism officer—is that if you have a person in preventative detention you can't ask them any questions, and anything they say can't be used in evidence. So, potentially, you could have a person in preventative detention who the police have put there because quite often there's not enough evidence to arrest and interview. That's part of the reason the PDOs were set up in the first place—to prevent that person from potentially going on to commit a terrorist attack. But, as they are in the holding cell under the PDO and not being asked any questions, they may have information. It could be, as you see in the criminal or terrorist world, that the code is, 'If I get picked up and I'm in custody, you go and commit the attack.' That's of great concern to me. The person in there may have information that could help law enforcement to prevent a terrorist attack. Law enforcement cannot give that guarantee and they never will be able to give that guarantee. A person who's in custody may have that information, but since they'll never be asked questions, law enforcement can never get the answers. The only way law enforcement can get that is to release and re-arrest.

In the UK they have what's called pre-arrest or pre-charge detention. It doesn't need the same threshold to actually make an arrest for a criminal investigation and to charge. The reason they do this is that, when it comes to terrorism, law enforcement does not have the luxury it has when it comes to, say, an armed robbery, where you can allow the offenders to buy the masks, receive or steal the firearms, get a stolen vehicle and case out the joint, and then have the police pick them up pretty much on the morning they're about to commit an attack or commit an armed robbery. When it comes to terrorism, they don't have that luxury. As soon as they believe something is going to occur, even though they don't have enough evidence to charge, they will go in and make that arrest to ensure that public safety comes first. This makes it very difficult when it comes to the PDO.

The UK have had so many terrorist attacks. There were the attacks in Manchester and also the attacks on the bridge outside parliament house last year—the anniversary of which has just occurred—where, sadly, two young Australians lost their lives. They've realised in the UK that they need every resource they can get, especially when they have 20,000 people of interest over there and 3,000 of them are extremists of great interest. In Australia—and this has been publicly stated before—we would probably have in the vicinity of 500. I acknowledge that the Attorney-General is looking into this. In fact, I and the Attorney-General, when he was in another role, put in a submission to the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security, explaining why the police need the ability to question a person under a PDO. I would say that's a good sign, because the Attorney-General knows how important this change to the legislation is to protect Australians from terrorist attacks.

I have another concern—and the member for Cowan has also raised this issue. Legislation is obviously very important at the pointy end, as are more resources for the Australian Federal Police. If we go back to the Howard days, the coalition was always putting in an amazing amount of funding when it came to counterterrorism measures and the Australian Federal Police. I congratulate the Minister for Home Affairs, Peter Dutton, for recommending funding for the criminal intelligence security system in this recent budget. I've been calling for such a system for a number of years; it's a national database. This database will help law enforcement. One of the biggest issues is—and we saw this with September 11—the lack of data exchange and information between agencies. We saw this when the FBI were not able to receive information about those people who were undertaking pilot training and who ended up using commercial planes to commit those awful attacks on the Twin Towers in America.

The criminal intelligence security database in Australia, which I know all law enforcement agencies across the country are very keen to have, will have the ability to have included on it people of interest who may, for example, be buying or possessing dangerous goods or chemicals. Quite often, the people involved in terrorist activities haven't got a licence themselves to buy such things, but they may have an associate who does. So it would help law enforcement to have that connection. For example, if they are watching a terrorist suspect and all of a sudden they realise an associate is buying high-consequence dangerous goods or undergoing pilot training, it doesn't necessarily mean any terrorist attack is being planned, but it gives a bit of reassurance. In the very worst case scenario, where something is being planned, it gives what we call a red flag alert to law enforcement, which is really important.

When it comes to extremism, all the programs in Australia through the Attorney-General's Department—and I understand it is the same in the UK and other countries—rely on the person who is engaged in extremist activity to get involved by simply volunteering to undertake what is called a deradicalisation program. I think it's great if a person wants to put up their hand to have counselling and have it explained to them why their beliefs are totally wrong and that they won't go to heaven after killing the infidels and all of those awful things, which, sadly, have been preached to them. But the problem I have is that we have so many young people who don't volunteer.

We go back to the incident outside the Endeavour Hills police station with Numan Haider, who met up with two police officers, one from the AFP and one from VicPol. I have met the police, and it should've been a low-key meeting. They were concerned about Numan Haider. He had been at the Dandenong shopping centre carrying an IS flag, which would obviously greatly concern law enforcement and suggest that this person is radicalised. When they met him at Endeavour Hills Police Station, he was friendly. He went to greet them but in actual fact started to stab them. The police members concerned ended up shooting him, and subsequently he lost his life. Numan Haider was a classic example of someone who had shown signs of being radicalised, and yet there was no mechanism in place to have a young person like that, or even an older person, with those views be compelled to change their behaviour or their views.

One aspect I've been pushing for is what's called a community protection intervention order, which works the same way as a family violence order. With a family violence order, if an aggrieved family member makes a complaint to the police or directly to the courts, the magistrate will put conditions in place, including not allowing that person to associate with the aggrieved family member, be within 500 metres of that person's work place or make contact with them through social media or telephone calls. But, when it comes to an extremist at that low level, basically, sadly, we're waiting, as we saw in the Brighton attack, for a person to commit the terrorist act. To me, we need something at a lower level, such as this community protection intervention order. Quite often you hear the parents are very concerned about their child, normally a son, who's watching beheading videos, talking on social media with other extremists and being coaxed by extremist clerics. These clerics don't actually say, 'Go commit a terrorist attack,' but they imply that September 11 was good, the embassy attacks in Indonesia against Australia were a good thing and those who give their life for a terrorist attack go to heaven, planting the seed of evil in a young person's mind. And, eventually, in so many cases, the young person goes and commits these awful attacks.

The way this could work is the police or a family member would go before a court. The magistrate would hear the evidence and would first of all decide whether the person's actions are extremist behaviour. The magistrate would then put conditions in place, such as that the person can no longer associate with other people with the same or similar views, watch beheadings or other IS propaganda videos or associate with people like the preacher who's trying to convert them. Benbrika is a really good example of someone who was forced out of a number of mosques, including the Preston mosque. Other Muslims regarded him as basically a crazy person who no-one would ever listen to, yet he would stand outside the mosques and go and convert young people. In total, I think he converted 17 young people to follow him to plan terrorist attacks, including at Federation Square, the MCG and other significant places. But he was allowed to coax these young people in. This is where straightaway an intervention order could be put on someone like that to keep away from the mosque and the young people he's trying to radicalise to ensure they don't go down the same path.

I know Victoria Police is very keen on this, and it's something I'm very keen to pursue. Otherwise we're waiting for something bad to happen, because young people, in particular, who've been brainwashed and don't want to go on a voluntary program will eventually, sadly, if they don't change their view, commit a terrorist attack. All those people that say it is a bit of hype just have to look at the last couple of years, with the planned attack on Federation Square on Christmas Eve, the planned Mother's Day attack, the planned Anzac Day attacks where they planned to behead police officers and also the recent planned attack on a commercial aircraft going from Sydney to Dubai which, if it hadn't been intercepted by police, would have seen hundreds of people killed.

I congratulate law enforcement members for what they've done. They have the full support of the Turnbull government. I acknowledge the bipartisan manner in which the report of this Intelligence and Security Committee and other reports have been produced. In closing, we must have preventative detention orders, the ability to question and also community protection intervention orders to really focus on those young people who've been radicalised to go down the wrong path, because waiting to see them commit a terrorist attack is not the way we should go.