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Monday, 9 February 2015
Page: 64

National Security


Senator FAWCETT (South AustraliaDeputy Government Whip in the Senate) (14:26): My question is to the Attorney-General, Senator Brandis. Will the Attorney-General update the Senate on the recent meeting in London of ministers responsible for national security?


Senator BRANDIS (QueenslandDeputy Leader of the Government in the Senate, Vice-President of the Executive Council, Minister for Arts and Attorney-General) (14:26): Last week I visited the United Kingdom where I co-chaired a meeting of the national security ministers of Australia's closest partner nations, known as the 'five eyes ministerial'.

Senator Conroy interjecting

Senator BRANDIS: I thought you might be taking national security issues a little more seriously than that, Senator Conroy.

Senators Conroy and Carr interjecting

The PRESIDENT: Senators Carr and Conroy. And Senator Cameron.

Senator BRANDIS: The other participants were my co-chair, the UK Home Secretary, Theresa May, together with the US Secretary of Homeland Security, Jeh Johnson, the New Zealand Attorney-General, Chris Finlayson, and the Canadian Minister for Public Safety, Steven Blaney. We discussed a range of national security issues including cyber threats to critical infrastructure and information sharing among jurisdictions. But the meeting was dominated by the most important item, the increasing global terrorist threat and in particular the challenges posed by citizens seeking to participate in the Syria and Iraq conflicts on behalf of terrorist organisations and the threats posed by returning foreign fighters with increased terrorist capability and home-grown extremists planning domestic attacks.

The national security ministers of the five jurisdictions agreed to increase collaboration on counterradicalisation, including by sharing approaches on prevention and intervention efforts aimed at exchanging best practice on the identification and management of radicalised and radicalising individuals and developing proactive strategies to address terrorist use of the internet and social media platforms. The efficacy of our approach requires strong laws and partnership with companies providing online services and the communities most vulnerable to terrorist propaganda. One important decision was to establish the Council of National Security Ministers on a permanent basis with a view to it being held annually. Next year's meeting will be co-hosted by New Zealand and Canada and is planned to be held in Quebec.





Senator FAWCETT (South AustraliaDeputy Government Whip in the Senate) (14:29): Mr President, I ask a supplementary question. Will the Attorney-General advise of other outcomes from the London meeting?


Senator BRANDIS (QueenslandDeputy Leader of the Government in the Senate, Vice-President of the Executive Council, Minister for Arts and Attorney-General) (14:29): Following the meeting a communique was issued, recognising the continuing challenges to the mutual security of our countries. We agreed that there must be a sustained and aggressive approach to address the global terrorist threat, in particular the increasing use of the internet by terrorist recruiters. We welcomed the opportunity to work with companies providing online services as a necessary way to achieve success. The ministers agreed to identify ways to enhance information-sharing, where appropriate, on travellers who propose a threat to the five countries' national security or national security interests. We also agreed to maintain and strengthen the collective efforts of the five countries to address the cyberthreat to critical infrastructure, including a focus on improving information-sharing with industry.


Senator FAWCETT (South AustraliaDeputy Government Whip in the Senate) (14:30): Mr President, I ask a further supplementary question. Will the Attorney-General advise the Senate how the Australian government is contributing to the global effort to fight terrorism and to counter radicalisation?


Senator BRANDIS (QueenslandDeputy Leader of the Government in the Senate, Vice-President of the Executive Council, Minister for Arts and Attorney-General) (14:30): The Australian government is contributing on many fronts. Australia co-sponsored UN Security Council resolution 2178 on foreign terrorist fighters, adopted on 24 September last year, requiring all nations to prevent the financing of terrorists, their travel and activities, and to take all necessary steps to prevent the passage across their borders of foreign fighters. We are working with our foreign partners to detect, disrupt and degrade threats posed by terrorist groups.

We are working to counter the spread of radicalisation within our communities through a $545-million investment in social inclusion initiatives, our targeted Countering Violent Extremism Intervention Programme, and many other like initiatives. I will represent the government at the Summit on Countering Violent Extremism in Washington on 19 February, where the important conversations held in London—and particularly in regard to the need for a coordinated global response to address the issue of terrorism—will be an item of business. (Time expired)