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Strengthening Australia’s counter-terrorism laws

Media Release

The Morrison Government is strengthening counter terrorism laws to ensure dangerous offenders remain behind bars if they pose an ongoing threat to public safety.

The Counter-Terrorism Legislation Amendment (2019 Measures No. 1) Bill 2019, introduced today, will make it harder for high risk terrorist offenders to get out of jail – even when they have served their full sentence – by closing a loophole which prevented some from being served with continuing detention orders (CDOs).

Under the existing legislation, a CDO can only be enforced when the sentence handed down for a terror offence is longer than any other sentence an individual might be serving concurrently for other crimes.

Significantly, the bill also introduces a presumption against bail and parole for terrorists and supporters of terrorists.

"These strong measures will ensure that public safety is paramount when applications for bail and parole are being considered, putting the interests of the community ahead of the interests of those who would seek to do us harm," Attorney General Christian Porter said.

"Prison is where those individuals belong and this Bill will ensure that is where they will stay."

The changes were recommended by the Council of Australian Governments following a deadly 2017 terror attack in Victoria, which involved an offender who was on bail and had previously been charged with a terrorism offence.

"The community was rightly outraged by Yacqub Khayre's case and I believe the changes we are introducing today strike the right balance between protecting individual rights and freedoms, and protecting the community," Mr Porter said.

Since the national terrorism threat level was raised to 'Probable' in September 2014, there have been seven terrorist attacks on Australian soil and a further 16 have been disrupted by law enforcement and intelligence agencies.

During the same period, 76 people have been convicted of terrorism related offences.

"Eleven of these individuals are due for release over the course of the next 18 months, which is why it is vital that Labor supports this Bill," Mr Porter said.

Once tabled, the Bill will be referred to the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security for inquiry and report.