Prime Minister Tony Abbott, in a speech detailing national security, has announced enhanced measures to combat the “worsening” threat of terrorism in Australia.
The speech follows the recommendations of a counter-terrorism review commissioned late last year following the events of the siege in Sydney’s Martin Place, where two hostages, Katrina Dawson and Tori Johnson, along with gunman Man Haron Monis were killed.
Abbott said the findings of the review – separate to the inquiry into the Lindt Cafe siege – reveal “Australia has entered a new, long-term era of heightened terrorism threat, with a much more significant home-grown element”.
“The number of foreign fighters is increasing, the number of known sympathisers and supporters of extremists is increasing, and the number of potential terrorists, including many who live in our midst, is rising as well,” the SMH reports Abbott will say.
These are some of the key recommendations the PM made in order to crackdown on “low-tech terrorism” and provide a “more focused and more cohesive” response:
- Appointment of a new counter-terrorism co-ordinator of government agencies
- There will be a new counter-terrorism strategy among all states and territories
- The terror alert warning system will be simplified to make it more comprehensible
- Possible funding increases for national security agencies
- Plans to strip dual nationals of their citizenship if implicated in terrorism activities
- A clampdown on known extremism groups in Australia
Following yesterday’s release of the joint federal-NSW inquiry into the Sydney siege, Abbott said the line between civil liberties and community safety “may have to be redrawn”.
“There is an ongoing and inevitable debate in a country such as ours … between the rights of the individual and the protection of the community,” he said.
“My judgment is that – while having always to respect both – the question of precisely where we draw the line in the era of terrorism will have to be reconsidered and the line may have to be redrawn.”
The siege report made 17 recommendations pertaining to areas such as immigration, the NSW justice system, firearms, information sharing and coordination, legislative powers, police communications and identity checks.
Here’s the full list of recommendations as outlined in the Review of Australia’s Counter-Terrorism Machinery: