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Thursday, 1 August 2019
Page: 1836

National Security


Mr HASTIE (Canning) (14:52): My question is to the Attorney-General. Will the Attorney update the House on how the Morrison government is on the side of Australians who quietly chose policies that strengthen our national security essential to our safety? Is the Attorney aware of any other policies?


Mr PORTER (PearceAttorney-General, Minister for Industrial Relations and Leader of the House) (14:52): I thank the member, who obviously, as the chair of the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security, takes an enormous interest in these matters. Since its return to parliament the Morrison government has clearly demonstrated that it is on the side of Australians who have made a quiet choice to strengthen our national security and to keep our nation safe. I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate those officers recently involved in the rest of Junaid Thorne in New South Wales. No doubt, that matter will proceed in the usual way.

But it is very useful to remind members that what the Morrison government has done over the last three weeks is all directed at keeping Australia safe. In the first three weeks of parliament, there have been three notable achievements. Firstly, we have passed legislation for a temporary exclusion order scheme to protect Australians from the threat of returning foreign fighters. The ability to delay, audit and control extreme high-risk individuals is absolutely critical to our future security, and it is instructive to note that we as a nation and as a government have learnt from past experience. Of the 25 Australians who travelled to Iraq to fight in that conflict and returned, eight were ultimately convicted of terrorist offences. So this is utterly critical legislation for this country.

Secondly, today we have introduced a bill that will ensure terrorists and their supporters are kept behind bars and improve the operation of the continuing detention order scheme for high-risk terrorist offenders. And we are doing that by extending the presumption against bail and parole to those who are not merely charged with terrorist offences but may be serving time for other offences that have clearly demonstrated terrorist sympathies.

In addition, and thirdly, I note that the Minister for Home Affairs has this week been in London. He has been working with our Five Eyes allies to ensure that technology companies help our police forces obtain access to encrypted services that shield the actions of child sex offenders. Why is that important? One of the pieces of data that has become known through that Five Eyes process is that there has been a near 20-fold increase in industry referrals of child abuse material to the National Centre for Missing and Exploited Children between 2014 and 2018. That's an increase from one million referrals to 18 million referrals in that time.

Lastly, perhaps most positively, the best news for those who quietly choose the safety of themselves and their families this week is that it appears the Leader of the Opposition, finally, after two years of opposing this policy, now supports the measures to introduce mandatory minimum penalties for child sex offenders. This is a very long overdue change of position from the Australian Labor Party, notwithstanding previous opposition recognition of the choices made by Australians. Australians at the last election chose for a very clear strength in these things. We will protect their safety. We very much welcome the change of position, I might say. (Time expired)