Question Time - combatting terrorism through countering the narrative of violent extremism

  • Transcript, E&OE
23 February 2015

Ms JULIE BISHOP (Curtin–Minister for Foreign Affairs) (14:20): I thank the member for Flynn for his question and I note his concern about this very serious matter. The government is intent on impacting the drivers of terrorism. We have a clear strategy for countering the ideology that gives rise to violent extremism; we are investing considerable resources to protect those most vulnerable to the terrorist narrative and strengthen community engagement. To this end, the government has funded $545 million for programs to strengthen relations across our multicultural communities. We are funding $13 million for direct early intervention through mentoring, counselling and coaching and education and employment support for vulnerable individuals who appear to be on the path to radicalisation.

Last week we announced a further $18 million for an initiative to counter propaganda that terrorist groups are spreading online to exploit vulnerable young Australians. Our message is clear: if you support terrorist organisations like Daesh here or abroad, you have been duped. It is not a noble cause; it is a barbaric, criminal outfit that seeks to take us back to the dark ages with its senseless savagery and inhumanity. I too want to applaud members of our Muslim community here in Australia who are taking a stand against extremism and working with the government, mosques and community groups to keep our people safe. The Attorney-General represented the government last week in Washington at the United States' Summit on Countering Violent Extremism. This was a really important forum for sharing information, experiences and techniques and for exploring strategies as to how extremism can best be countered in our respective nations. Australia will host a summit midyear with nations in our region to discuss how we can best combat the terrorist narrative and address the threat of online radicalisation.

Paradoxically, Daesh promotes its primitive, evil message by exploiting sophisticated modern technology and the very freedoms that we cherish. But we must protect citizens against the abuse of those freedoms, so the government will reduce access to extremist material online through working with government agencies, with the private sector and with international partners to take down online extremist content and to shut down extremist websites that pose a risk to our security. This is a global threat that requires a global response, and Australia is playing its part to counter terrorism wherever it occurs.

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