PM: Radical Islam is greatest threat to our society
Mr Morrison has called on local Islamic leaders to weed out the “evil thieves” who “prey on their community, on their vulnerable people, on their children”.
“There is a special responsibility on religious leaders to protect their religious communities and ensure dangerous teachings and ideologies do not take root here,” he said.
“They must be proactive. They must be alert and they must call this out in their communities and more broadly for what it is.”
Mr Morrison was speaking as a growing number of Government MPs demanded that terror suspects living in Australia on visas be deported to their home countries.
Liberal MP Jason Wood said: “Anyone who goes on a watchlist should be booted out. We currently do it under the character test for the bikies; we just need to change the legislation to include extremist activities.”
Experts said Mr Morrison’s message was the strongest of any modern Australian leader.
“It’s hard to think of a more hard-line response in calling out Islamist extremism than this,” said Australian National University professor of International Security and Intelligence studies John Blaxland.
The debate was sparked by the Bourke St attack, in which Somali-born Shire Ali stabbed three people, killing one, after blowing up his ute.
It emerged Shire Ali was one of 400 people on a national ASIO watchlist and that authorities cancelled his passport because of concerns he was planning to fight overseas.
Lowy Institute research fellow Rodger Shanahan said religion and terrorism was a sensitive issue to address but something that must be acknowledged.
“I think he has decided to call it as it is,” the former army officer said. “The difficulty is after someone has done that is how do you control the debate from the media or anybody else once you use the religion word?”
Australian Strategic Policy Institute’s Jacinta Carroll said the speech also contained positive messages about the role of the Muslim community in a n address that appeared to complement what Victoria and Australian Federal Police were saying.
Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews said that his state “will not be defined by this act of evil,” while Opposition Leader Matthew Guy said there should be no “moral squeamishness” when it came to dealing with extremism.
TRIBUTES: Opposition Leader Bill Shorten lays flowers at Pellegrini’s yesterday.