Question time - Government’s efforts to combat the ideology and propaganda used by terrorist organisations to recruit foreign fighters

  • Transcript, E&OE

MICHAEL SUKKAR (Federal Member for Deakin) My question is for the Minister for Foreign Affairs:

Can the Minister update the House on the Government's efforts to combat the ideology and propaganda used by terrorist organisations to recruit foreign fighters?

Ms JULIE BISHOP (Curtin–Minister for Foreign Affairs) (14:07): Australia is a great nation with an open and tolerant society that embraces people from every corner of the globe. We are multicultural, we are multifaith, and that is why it is unfathomable why some Australians, mostly young men, are being drawn to the extremism and violence represented by ISIL and its ilk. The challenge for our nation and many other nations around the globe, indeed at least 80 countries which claim to have foreign fighters in their midst, is to ensure that the poison of groups like ISIL does not infect our young people and our communities. We must challenge the extreme ideology of ISIL so that Australians are not drawn into this destructive and murderous web and are not driven to undertake acts of violence such as we have seen in the Middle East or, indeed, here at home.

It is worth noting that the Prime Minister of the United Arab Emirates and Ruler of Dubai wrote in The Financial Review today that the international coalition will defeat ISIL militarily. But he warned:

I consider this ideology to be the greatest danger that the world will face in the next decade. Its seeds are growing in Europe, the United States, Asia, and elsewhere. With its twisted religious overtones, this pre-packaged franchise of hate is available for any terrorist group to adopt. It carries the power to mobilize thousands of desperate, vindictive, or angry young people and use them to strike at the foundations of civilization.

Federal and state governments and our Prime Minister have been engaging with Muslim leaders and other religious leaders to work with communities. I do welcome the statements of the Grand Mufti and other Muslim leaders who have rejected ISIL's claims and its barbarity and have denounced its betrayal of Islam. This week, at the request of the Victorian Premier, I briefed his cabinet on the threat of ISIL and its ilk and urged that the Victorian government continue its engagement and its outreach working with community leaders to combat the influence and spread of this vile ideology given the tragic events last week in Melbourne.

The government's new counter-terrorism package includes a new $13.4 million Countering Violent Extremism program that will help build relationships with vulnerable communities, develop a framework for intervention to de-radicalise individuals and to challenge the extremist narrative with a credible counter-narrative. Australia will respond to this threat at every level, from our military and security agencies within our political system and throughout our communities. At every step Australians must all accept responsibility for challenging and rejecting the hateful ideology of ISIL and its ilk to keep our country and our citizens safe from the threat that it poses.

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