The Federal Government’s billion dollar-plus fight against home-grown terror will be bolstered by the nation’s first counter-terrorism co-ordinator announced Monday.
Former ambassador to Indonesia Greg Moriarty was confirmed as Australia’s first anti-terrorism coordinator, in a move which followed the disruption of six planned attacks and the commission of two actual attacks since the threat level was raised to high in September 2014.
It was also a response to the potentially deadly threat of radicalised Australians enacting religious and politically-motivated violence, Fairfax reports.
Mr Moriarty spent four years in Jakarta and three years as Australia’s ambassador in Iran, and also previously worked as an intelligence analyst.
Foreign Minister Julie Bishop said on Monday Mr Moriarty’s job would be to oversee the work of Australia’s law enforcement and intelligence agencies.
“Greg Moriarty’s role will be to co-ordinate all of the efforts across government and report to the Prime Minister,” Ms Bishop told the ABC’s AM program.
“There are many different departments, many different agencies, and we want to ensure that there’s a completely co-ordinated approach and nothing slips through the cracks.
“History shows that where there’s a lack of co-ordination between agencies … that can cause concerns and issues.
“We want to make sure that we do everything possible to keep Australians safe from a terrorist attack at home and prevent Australians taking part in terrorist activities overseas.”
Ms Bishop also confirmed as part of the new arrangements Justice Minister Michael Keenan would be given the newly-created portfolio of Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for Counterterrorism.
The move follows the injection of some $600 million in extra funds in this month’s budget, taking the Abbott Government’s overall counter-terrorism commitment to $1.33 billion.
The Government is also expected to unveil legislation this week giving authorities the power to revoke the citizenship of dual nationals and other Australians who join terrorist groups or advocate for violent extremism.
“A number of countries are looking at stripping citizenship: the United Kingdom has done it, Canada and the US are considering it,” Ms Bishop said.
“We’re looking at this very closely; it’s a matter that our national security committee has been considering.”
Opposition Leader Bill Shorten said Labor would reserve its position until it saw the draft legislation.
“We obviously need to see the detail and we have asked the Prime Minister for a briefing on these matters to make sure we can make our ongoing consistent and constructive contribution,” Mr Shorten said.
In a pre-recorded video message, Mr Abbott warned: “Australia faces a growing challenge from foreign fighters and from homegrown terrorists.”
“You can be assured that this Government will do everything in our power to protect our people and to stop radicalised and brutalised people from roaming our streets,” he said.
– with ABC