PM Tony Abbott Heads To UN For Special Security Council Meeting As Terror Laws Are Tightened

Australian PM Tony Abbott. Photo: Dan Kitwood/Getty Images

Prime Minister Tony Abbott heads to New York on Tuesday to be part of a special session of the Security Council, convened by President Obama to discuss the emerging threat from home-grown foreign fighters in regions such Syria and Iraq.

The PM said eighty nations “face the challenge of dealing with foreign fighters”.

The Government plans to introduce new, tougher counter-terrorism legislation to Parliament on Wednesday and on Monday, Tony Abbott will give a national security statement on the latest developments.

Under the new laws, it’s believed police will have the power to conduct secret searches of the homes of extremists and terrorism suspects. The details of a search could be withheld for up to six months.

Inciting someone to commit a terrorist action, a law targeting extremist preachers, would attract up to five years in jail, even if no action was taken.

Foreign minister Julie Bishop will have the power to declare a country where terrorists operate, such as Syria, off limits and Australians who travel or stay there without a good reason, such as humanitarian work, could be prosecuted.

The power is designed to enable police to search a terror plotter’s house secretly to see if they have acquired weapons or explosives, and at the same time gauge how advanced the conspiracy has become. As part of that new power, police will be allowed to use undercover officers to conduct their covert searches.

The Prime Minister said the Government was giving security organisations such as ASIO, Customs and the federal police $630 million to increase their efforts.

“This work is not about targeting any particular community. It’s not about religion, it’s not about what people wear – it’s about dealing with criminals,” Abbott said.