Monday, 23 February 2015

Australian PM - Tony Abbott To Launch New Strategy To Counter 'Long-term Era of Terrorism'

Tony Abbott
The Australian government will create a national strategy to beat violent extremism and appoint a counter-terrorism coordinator to tackle what the prime minister, Tony Abbott, calls a “new, long-term era of heightened terrorism”.

He has also flagged an overhaul of the public alert system. The national terror threat has been on high since September last year.

Abbott will on Monday deliver an address to parliament on national security, focusing on the recommendations of a review announced last year into Australia’s counter-terrorism capability.

“The review found that Australia has entered a new, long-term era of heightened terrorism threat, with a much more significant home-grown element,” Abbott will say. “It assesses that the terrorist threat in Australia is rising. On all metrics, the threat to Australia is worsening.

“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 address will continue.

“Thousands of young and vulnerable people in the community are susceptible to radicalisation. Terrorists are becoming more adept at evading surveillance.”

About 90 Australians have travelled to Syria and Iraq to join extremist groups, with 30 having already returned to Australia.

“We have very generous systems in Australia, we have very generous interpretations of people’s motives. We need to make sure that in a new climate, a new climate that’s changed significantly in the past year, a security climate that’s deteriorated that we have system as robust as they possibly can be in assessing the system. We need to make sure that we doing everything question to protect community safety,” justice minister Michael Keenan told ABC radio on Monday morning.

“I think Australians understand that if you are going to increase the security environment then that can sometimes impinge on their individual freedoms. It can create greater inconvenience. The but the environment has change and we need to respond appropriately and do that by making sure community safety is paramount,” Keenan said.

The public alert system for terrorist warnings will be simplified, Abbott said.
“The government will develop a new system to provide more helpful information to Australians about what the threat actually is and what precautions people might take.”

The address comes a day after the release of the report into the Sydney siege, which Abbott said showed that the “system had let down” the community by failing to prevent the fatal incident.

He flagged a redrawing of the line between liberty and security in order to protect Australian lives.
“We need to re-examine the system and ask ourselves at what stage do we need to change the tipping point from protection of the individual to the safety of the community and that’s exactly what we’re doing,” Abbott told reporters on Sunday.

The prime minister signalled he would toughen immigration procedures, after the siege report revealed that security agencies had raised red flags over gunman Man Haron Monis shortly after he sought asylum in Australia.

Abbott said checks and scrutiny would need to be applied to the granting of visas and citizenship.
“We reach out and embrace people but we can’t endlessly tolerate people who have a lend of us,” Abbott said.

Opposition leader Bill Shorten on Sunday said that the government must “get the balance right” between protecting society and protecting the rights of the individual.

The Guardian