Tough gun laws, strict border controls and the cultural diversity of Australian society mean it is ‘unlikely’ that Australia would suffer a terror attack similar to the recent terrorist raid on Paris, says Federal Justice Minister Michael Keenan.
Mr Keenan cited Australia’s gun laws and diversity as strengths against the terror threat, which he described as very significant.
He said the combination meant it would be very difficult to “perpetrate something like we saw in Paris here in Australia”.
“We manage our diversity in Australia better than anywhere in the world and part of our process of going through and strengthening our anti-terror laws has been that reassurance to the Muslim community and working very closely with them,” he said.
“It would be very hard to get those sorts of weapons here in Australia because of our very robust gun laws.”
Mr Keenan said although security agencies could not rule out a mass terror attack in the future, Australia had an advantage by being able to track who was entering the country.
“There’s a big challenge in Europe at the moment that we don’t have,” he said.
“There are significant movements, literally hundreds of thousands of people moving around Europe in an uncontrolled way.”
Mr Keenan said the Turnbull government has continued the strong stance on national security that had been started by the Abbott government, but conceded the two leaders had very different styles.
He said “both men express themselves differently, but the policy objectives remain the same”.
PM returns for final session
The new Prime Minister, meanwhile, has returned from a whirlwind of international meetings dominated by the Paris terrorist attacks for the last parliamentary sitting fortnight of the year.
In just over a week since the nation’s politicians were last in Canberra, Malcolm Turnbull has travelled to Indonesia, Germany, Turkey, the Philippines and Malaysia where terrorism overshadowed the usually economic-focused agendas.
While Mr Turnbull continues to enjoy strong support since toppling Tony Abbott as prime minister, how to deal with the threat from Islamic State is the first big test for his leadership, moreso from within his own party.
He will be able to report back on the international approach to beating Islamic State but Mr Abbott has called on the SAS to intervene in Syria with “boots on the ground”.
Mr Keenan isn’t surprised Mr Abbott wants to have his “two cents’ worth” in a debate that will likely take up the parliamentary agenda. Australia is already the second-largest contributor to the US-led coalition seeking to drive IS out of Iraq and Syria.
“If there is further that we can do in conjunction with international partners then obviously we will seriously look at that,” Mr Keenan said.
Debate will resume on Monday on draft laws that will strip dual nationals suspected of terrorism of their Australian citizenship.
‘Thanks to me’: Palmer
While Mr Turnbull prepares for the final parliamentary session of 2015, Clive Palmer says he deserves credit for the dumping of former prime minister Tony Abbott.
The Palmer United Party politician said the country would “still have Tony Abbott as prime minister if it wasn’t for the Palmer United Party”.
“I would say that the 2014 budget, the stand we took in the Senate that made a difference for this country, certainly played a view in the downfall of the Abbott government,” he said.
However, Senior Labor frontbencher Anthony Albanese says there is nothing to suggest Malcolm Turnbull has changed since his failure as leader of the Liberals in opposition.
Mr Turnbull is enjoying strong support since toppling Tony Abbott as prime minister, putting the coalition in a winning position for next year’s federal election.
“What we’re seeing is an immediate lift in the polls for Malcolm Turnbull. It’s a shiny new thing for people to look at,” Mr Albanese told Network Ten on Sunday.
“But when people look at the substance, I think we’ll see a very different outcome.”
But Mr Palmer believes Mr Turnbull is “going very well”, praising the PM’s stance on Syria and the ongoing fight against terrorism.
-with ABC, AAP