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Hezbollah legislation.



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LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION

STATEMENT BY THE LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION THE HON SIMON CREAN

HEZBOLLAH LEGISLATION

I welcome the Government’s belated decision today to support Labor’s proposal to ban the terrorist wing of Hezbollah.

Despite the fact that both major parties have agreed on the threat posed by this group for some time, the Government has been more interested in playing politics than acting against the very real threat posed by the Hezbollah External Terrorist Organisation.

It has finally been forced to bring forward specific legislation banning the Hezbollah External terrorist Organisation because of Labor’s determination to act, and act quickly.

The legislation introduced in Parliament today has the same effect as the legislation I proposed on Monday of this week.

Labor decided that the Parliament needed to take quick and decisive action against the growing threat to Australia from international terrorist groups like the Hezbollah External Security Organisation.

And although the Government will not admit it, the threat to Australia is a direct result of the increased global terrorist activity following the war in Iraq.

While we will support this belated decision to introduce specific legislation banning the terrorist wing of Hezbollah, we will not support fundamental changes to our anti-terrorism laws that would give sweeping powers to the Attorney-General to ban any organisation he deems to be “terrorist”.

The Attorney-General’s own party refused to give him these powers last year and the Prime Minister accepted that decision, saying the current legislation had “got the balance right”.

Australians want a strong bipartisan approach to national security issues.

Labor has taken the initiative on this issue, and has forced a Government more interested in political point-scoring to, for once, do the right thing.

CANBERRA 29 MAY 2003