Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott has flagged a tougher stance on hate preaching

February 24, 2015 6:32 am

Australian Prime Minister has flagged a tougher stance on
hate preaching and warned Australian citizenships could be revoked as
he spelled out the worsening terrorist threat to the nation.
The
Prime Minister outlined a number of steps to tackle in a
speech at the Australian Federal Police headquarters in Canberra.
“The terrorist threat is rising at home and abroad and it’s becoming harder to combat,” Abbott said.
To date, 110 Australians have travelled overseas to join (Islamic State), with 30 returning and at least 20 dead.

The Lindt cafe siege has sparked a rethink of anti-terror laws. Photo / AP 

However,
Abbott said there were at least 140 Isis supporters in and
the country faced a real risk of Australians returning as “hardened
jihadists” intent on radicalising others.
Since September when
the national terrorist threat level was lifted to “high” – meaning a
terrorist attack is likely – 20 people have been arrested and charged.

Spy agency ASIO has more than 400 “high priority”
counter-terrorism investigations under way – more than double the number
a year ago.
Under changes to be brought in this year, returning
foreign fighters will be prosecuted or monitored under control orders
and could lose their citizenship and welfare benefits.
“Australians
who take up arms with terrorist groups, especially while Australian
military personnel are engaged in Afghanistan and Iraq, have sided
against their country and should be treated accordingly,” Abbott said.
A national counter-terrorism co-ordinator will be appointed and the states will be included in the national strategy.
Abbott
named the group Hizb ut-Tahrir as being among the organisations that
will be targeted for “blatantly spreading discord and division”.
“The Government will be taking action against hate preachers,” he said.
Security
agencies will be quarantined from the Government’s efficiency dividend –
regular spending cuts put in place to balance the budget.
Abbott
said he could not promise a terrorist attack would never occur on
Australian soil, but his Government would never underestimate the
threat.
Labor leader Bill Shorten said the Opposition would consider the proposed changes.
“Labor believes that keeping Australia secure and our people safe is above politics,” he said.
Meanwhile, Abbott says he’s never been involved in any discussions about unilaterally sending troops into Iraq.

Tony Abbott has denied considering sending 3500 troops to fight Isis. Photo / AP
Tony Abbott has denied considering sending 3500 troops to fight Isis. Photo / AP

The Australian newspaper at the weekend reported that
Abbott raised the idea of sending 3500 troops to Iraq to fight Isis at a
meeting in November.
Shorten yesterday attempted to broaden the
question as to whether Abbott ever participated in “any discussions for a
unilateral deployment of troops to Iraq”.
“No, I haven’t,” Abbott told Parliament.
He
read to the House a statement from Chief of the Defence Force Mark
Binskin and Defence Department Secretary Dennis Richardson, who
dismissed the story as false.
“At no point has the Prime Minister
raised that idea with the ADF and/or the Department of Defence,
formally or informally, directly or indirectly,” the pair said.
The Australian stands by its story.
Isis militants have released a video which appears to show caged Kurdish fighters being interviewed moments before their deaths.
With
a microphone pushed through the bars of their cage, each man quietly
repeats talking points about the righteousness of Isis’ war in the
Middle East and North Africa.
At one point, the nine-minute
propaganda film shows more than a dozen prisoners being paraded through
crowded streets of a northern Iraqi town near Kirkuk, with black-clad
militants hanging to the cages.

Terror supporters

90 Australians at least fighting with and supporting terrorist groups in Iraq and Syria 30 foreign fighters have returned to Australia
140 people in Australia at least actively supporting extremist groups
400 of several thousand leads considered high priority ASIO cases

Counter-terror review

• Government will quarantine ASIO, the AFP and ASIS from its efficiency dividend.
• Develop a new counter-terrorism strategy.
• Appoint a National Counter-Terrorism Co-ordinator to chair a new counter terrorism group advising government.
• Seek state and federal agreement on a new Counter Violent Extremism strategy to tackle radicalisation in Australia.
• Establish and expand community and public-private partnerships to better reach at risk individuals.
• Attorney-General’s Department will co-ordinate the government response to foreign fighters returning to Australia.

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