Malcolm Turnbull to seek new laws allowing indefinite imprisonment of terrorists

Photo: Don Arnold/Getty Images.

Prime minister Malcolm Turnbull and attorney-general George Brandis have announced new national counter-terrorism initiatives, including a push for indefinite imprisonment of terrorists who continue to pose a threat after serving their sentence.

Turnbull said there was a need to update current legislation to ensure Australians remained safe from terrorist groups such as ISIS.

Despite Australia’s advantage of secure borders and strong gun control laws, Turnbull said: “We cannot for a moment be complacent.”

“We can never ever be complacent and we are not, we are focused constantly.”

He has written to state and territory leaders asking them to agree on nationally consistent laws for the indefinite detention of terrorists who continue to pose a threat after serving their sentence.

This post-sentencing detention regime is similar to that imposed on sex offenders who have not been able to be rehabilitated.

“It will only apply to those who have approached the end of their sentence and continue to pose threat to community… those who have failed to be rehabilitated,” said Attorney-General George Brandis, adding it would be a court-supervised process.

Brandis will meet with state and territory counterparts in coming days to discuss the model.

The government has also accepted the recommendations of review of parliamentary joint committee into counter-terrorism legislation bill.

As part of that, the age for those who can receive a control order – which can stop someone from leaving Australia or communicating with specified individuals – will be reduced from 16 years to 14. This recommendation followed the shooting of Curtis Cheng.

Cheng, a 17-year veteran of the police force’s Finance Department, was shot dead outside the NSW police headquarters in Parramatta by 15-year-old Farhad Khalil Mohammad Jabar in October last year.

A person can be subject to a control order if it substantially helps prevent a terrorist attack.

The bill also introduces a new offence of advocating genocide to further respond to the negative impact on our community of people who preach hate.

“Early in the new parliament we will introduce the Counter-Terrorism Legislation Amendment Bill 2016,” said Turnbull.

“The Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security (PJCIS) made 21 recommendations on the 2015 bill, most importantly that the legislation should pass.

“Following consultation with the states and territories, the government accepts all of the PJCIS recommendations, and they will be reflected in the bill.

“These two decisive steps are necessary to strengthen and update our counter-terrorism laws,” said Turnbull. “The threat is real, the threat level is stated as probable.”

“Together the measures are designed to deter terrorism, prevent it and to reassure Australians to go about their daily lives.”

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