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Thursday, 24 May 2018
Page: 4596

Regional Security

Mr ANDREWS (Menzies) (14:34): My question is to the Minister for Foreign Affairs. Will the Minister update the House on recent steps the government has taken to reduce the threat of terrorism in our region, notably following the recent attacks in Indonesia?

Ms JULIE BISHOP (CurtinMinister for Foreign Affairs) (14:34): I thank the member for Menzies for his question and note his ongoing active interest in foreign affairs, particularly national security. The recent terrorist attacks in Surabaya, in Indonesia, where Indonesian families and young children were deployed as suicide bombers, are a horrific reminder to us of the ongoing threat to our communities of violent Islamic extremism. The terrorist attacks targeting Christian churches and police stations were particularly deplorable. About 30 people were killed; over 50 were injured. But what was particularly disturbing is that they were clearly designed to undermine religious tolerance and social cohesion in Indonesia.

The Australian government stands in absolute solidarity with the Indonesian government. Both the Prime Minister and I sent messages of support and messages of condolence. The Indonesian government and the Indonesian people are our most important partner when it comes to combating terrorism in our region. We are working closely with Indonesia, noting that, as they have, Australia has also suffered attempted terrorist attacks. We're working together to locate foreign terrorist fighters returning from Iraq and Syria. We're seeking to track terrorists and their associates and their equipment and resources.

At the G20 foreign ministers meeting in Buenos Aires this week I met with Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi, and she discussed in detail this manifestation of violent Islamic extremism in the form of using children as suicide bombers. She discussed ways that we can work more closely together, that we can cooperate even further, in our fight against terrorism. Indonesia is currently looking at ways of providing more powers to its counterterrorism authorities, and we are certainly sharing our experiences in that regard. Minister Marsudi thanked the Australian people and the Australian government for our ongoing support and the level of cooperation, including exchanges of intelligence and experience. She noted what Australia had done in our efforts to combat terrorism over a number of years.

Australia and Indonesia are both very active members of the Global Counterterrorism Forum, and we are jointly chairing a group focusing on countering violent extremism. The Australian government has also recently signed an agreement with the ASEAN leaders during the Prime Minister's hosting of the ASEAN-Australia leaders forum in Sydney. That recommits Australia and the 10 ASEAN nations to the fight against terrorism by coordinating our efforts.

I know I'm joined by all members in this House as I confirm that the Australian government will dedicate the resources and the energy and the political will to keeping Australians as safe as possible both at home and abroad.

Mr SHORTEN (MaribyrnongLeader of the Opposition) (14:37): On indulgence: I seek to associate the opposition with the foreign minister's remarks. Surabaya is an amazing city. It's Indonesia's second largest city. It's a marvellous, cosmopolitan city. It doesn't deserve to have this evil visited upon it. The opposition stands with the government's remarks on Australia's solidarity with Indonesia.