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Monday, 23 November 2015
Page: 8602


Senator BRANDIS (QueenslandAttorney-General, Vice-President of the Executive Council and Leader of the Government in the Senate) (13:59): by leave—In recent days, the world has been shocked and appalled by a wave of attacks by Islamist terrorists on innocent people in the Middle East, most particularly in Egypt, Lebanon and Iraq; in Africa, including in Nigeria and more recently in Mali; in Turkey; and in France. Every one of those attacks is horrifying. For most Australians, I dare say the shock was most particularly felt from the attacks in Paris on Friday 13 November, since so many of us have fond memories of that city. We acknowledge it to be one of the great centres of Western civilisation—the city of light, a bastion of liberty and one of the world's greatest centres of culture.

As has been said by many, this was an attack on freedom everywhere and on all humanity. People of goodwill, of all religions and none, around Australia and around the world are united in condemning this barbarism for which there can be no excuse and for which there can be no toleration. I echo comments made by the Prime Minister this afternoon in the other place in expressing the condolences of the Australian government and people to the people of France, and to all the victims of the attacks in other parts of the world as well.

We salute the inspirational courage and resolve of the French people. We mourn with them, just as we mourn for the victims of terrorism everywhere, including here in Australia. We stand shoulder to shoulder with the French people and with other people around the world in our resolve to defeat this evil. Our cooperation with France and with our other friends, which is already close, will be closer still.

In responding with utter resolve, with the eternal vigilance which is the price of liberty and with careful, considered thought and action, we will not allow these attacks nor any others to destroy the freedom and humanity for which we stand. These attacks give no reason for us to reduce our commitment to helping those who flee the barbarism of ISIL and other terrorists. Indeed, they demonstrate all the more graphically why it is right and necessary both to stand resolutely against ISIL and also to help as best we can its many innocent victims, including the 12,000 Syrian refugees we have rightly committed to take, and who will, of course, be subject to our usual thorough security screening.

Here at home, we know that we too continue to face the risk of terror. We have suffered three fatal terrorist attacks in a little over a year and our alert level rightly remains set at 'high'. We will, as we must, strengthen our counterterrorism laws in considered ways, and we will work ever harder with community leaders to prevent and remedy the extreme radicalisation which breeds terrorism. We also know that we have security intelligence services which are second to none in the world, appropriately supported by the government and by the parliament. As the Director-General of Security at ASIO, Duncan Lewis, has pointed out, they have disrupted six attempts to attack Australia and Australians since September of last year. As Director-General Lewis also says, all Australians can contribute to the defeat of terrorism by continuing to go about our lives in a normal way. To do otherwise, would be to give in to the threat, and that we will never do.

Protecting Australians and protecting freedom is, as the Prime Minister reminds us, a global battle. We stand together with the people of France and with all freedom-loving people in the battle against terrorism and in our solidarity with its victims. I thank the Senate.