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Passage of Hizballah legislation.

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(Hon) Daryl Williams

16 June 2003

PASSAGE OF HIZBALLAH LEGISLATION The Howard Government will move quickly to list the Hizballah External Security Organisation as a terrorist organisation following today's passage of the Criminal Code Amendment (Hizballah) Bill 2003 through Federal Parliament.

As announced on 5 June 2003, following advice from the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO) and the Attorney-General's Department, I am satisfied that the conditions for listing the Hizballah External Security Organisation under the legislation have been met.

Once the legislation has received Royal Assent we will be in a position to make regulations to give effect to that decision from 5 June, 2003.

I welcome the Opposition's support for this Bill which, in this one instance, addresses the problem Labor created when it insisted that Australia cede its independence to list terrorist organisations to the United Nations Security Council.

But the Bill passed today only addresses the problem as it applies to the terrorist wing of Hizballah, which has not been formally identified as a terrorist organisation by the UN Security Council.

Under current law, Australia still does not have the power to list any other terrorist organisations that have not been identified as such by the UN Security Council, regardless of the advice of our own intelligence agencies.

It must be remembered that the UN Security Council list is limited to organisations with links to Al Qaida or the Taliban. The Government has been advised that Hizballah does not fall into that category and, as such, could not be listed by the UN.

I call on the Opposition to support another Bill before the Senate, reasserting Australia's independence to identify and act against threats to Australia and Australian interests, regardless of whether the United Nations has taken action.

It is clear that Australia must have the power to independently assess and act on threats to the Australian community.

If the Opposition continues to oppose this Bill, Australia will be forced to continue to rely on the UN Security Council list as the basis for determining what constitutes a threat to Australian interests regardless of the advice of our own intelligence agencies.

This is clearly not in the interests of national security.

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