Speaking at the national countering violent extremism meeting in Canberra today, prime minister Malcolm Turnbull said it’s time for Australians to come together as a community to fight against the evils of extremism.
“We are a big nation, we are a big Australian family and we have many agencies at the Federal level, State and Territory level, engaged in the vital task of ensuring that our community is safe,” he said, speaking to an assembly of senior law enforcement and counter-terrorism officials.
“And all of you – and your colleagues are in the frontline – and it is vital that we work closely together, [are] absolutely critical.
“Our efforts must be coordinated and we must share our relevant experiences. We are dealing… with an evolving threat.”
The summit, which will focus on ensuring Australia has effective measures in place for countering violent extremism and ways of preventing people from becoming radicalised, follows the murder of police accountant Curtis Cheng by a radicalised 15 year old boy.
Just this morning federal police announced that a 12-year-old was the latest youth to be listed as a potential threat by counter-terrorism authorities.
“This is a real home grown threat,” Turnbull said. “The most critically important Australian value in all of this is that of mutual respect.
“We are the most successful multicultural society in the world… There is no country comparable to ours which has such a diverse mix of its population and that is built on mutual respect. And what extremists seek to do is to denigrate and preach hatred against one group or another, against another religion or other parts of their own religion and in so doing divide us.”
Turnbull also touched how today’s “modern 2015” society, with its powers of the internet and technology, poses challenges on national security.
“We have to be prepared to experiment and try new approaches and all of you, and I know, are doing that,” he said.
“That’s why we need to have regular meetings like this, to exchange ideas… as part of the effort of protecting the harmonious diversity of Australia”.
Australia’s first counter-terrorism coordinator Greg Moriarty will lead the talks at the summit which include officials such as Australian Federal Police Commissioner Andrew Colvin and ASIO head Duncan Lewis.
The recommendations and proposals developed at the summit will be considered at the next session of the Council of Australian Governments meeting.