Question Time - National Security

  • Transcript, E&OE
25 June 2015

Mr GOODENOUGH (Moore) (14:53): My question is to the Minister for Foreign Affairs. Will the minister update the House on steps the government is taking internationally to starve terrorist organisations like Daesh of the funds that they need to wage their war of terror? Ms JULIE BISHOP (Curtin–Minister for Foreign Affairs) (14:54): I thank the member for his question and for his concern about this very serious issue. The government is taking strong action internationally, and at home, to starve organisations such as Daesh of the support it seeks to carry out terrorist attacks. To fund its campaign of violence, Daesh engages in nefarious activities, including kidnapping for ransom, establishing fake charities, drug and human trafficking, looting banks and museums, and smuggling oil and gas from Syria and Iraq. We believe that Daesh has income streams of millions of dollars from its transnational criminal activities. In the last 12 months it has raised up to $60 million from ransom payments for kidnap victims and tens of millions of dollars more from selling stolen antiquities.

Australia is taking a lead role internationally to protect the integrity of international financial systems and to starve terrorist groups of funds. During the term of our presidency of the global Financial Action Task Force, which ends on 30 June, Australia has advocated for strong and effective measures to combat terrorist financing. The 180 international members of the task force, and related organisations, are meeting this week in Brisbane, with terrorist financing a key agenda item. Australia is also an active member of the anti-Daesh coalition's counter-terrorism financing group, which establishes ways for coalition members to disrupt key areas of Daesh's economic activities.

At the UN, we have cosponsored UN Security Council resolutions 2199 and 2178, which provide a range of tools, including sanctions and other binding measures, to degrade terrorists' financial networks and deny them funds. At home, we have a targeted sanctions regime listing 93 persons and entities. This makes it a serious criminal office under Australian law to provide the likes of Mohamed Elomar, Khaled Sharrouf and Neil Christopher Prakash with financial or material support or to deal with their assets. Under the government's $630 million counter-terrorism package $20 million has been provided for Austrac, our financial monitoring agency, to develop a new intelligence team to improve our efforts to detect terrorist financing. Austrac is working closely with our security agencies, the financial sector, NGOs and other charities to monitor financial transactions to prevent foreign fighters receiving the financial support that they would otherwise need.

While there is more to do, we are disrupting the flows of funds to Daesh, we are weakening their financial support and we are weakening this brutal regime. The government will continue to take all steps necessary to starve terrorists of finances, to starve terrorists of foreign fighters and to keep Australians safe.

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