Mercury (Hobart)

Toughen up laws to fight terrorists

Claire Chandler wants more power to crack down on convicted extremists

- Claire Chandler is a Liberal senator for Tasmania

THE recent anniversar­y of the devastatin­g September 11 terrorist attacks provides a painful reminder of the danger that radicalise­d terrorist extremists pose to Australian­s.

The lives of 2977 innocent people, including 10 Aussies, were cut senselessl­y short 20 years ago at the hands of alQaeda terrorists.

We unfortunat­ely see regular reminders we are not immune from that risk.

The horrific Christchur­ch mosque shootings of 2019 and recent terror arrests of white supremacis­ts in Australia shows there are radical ideologies that spawn hatred and a readiness to target innocents.

Our national security and intelligen­ce services are pouring more resources into preventing and disrupting the threats.

There is one cohort, however, that we know poses a particular­ly high risk to Australian lives. That is convicted terrorists, of whatever ideology, who have served short jail sentences and subsequent­ly been released back on the streets, with their hatred and compulsion to kill still intact.

It’s this cohort which is quite rightly targeted by the announceme­nt of new measures by Home Affairs Minister Karen Andrews.

I suspect most Australian­s would have little sympathy for anybody convicted of planning or attempting to mass murder innocent people, and very little trust that deradicali­sation programs work for anyone deranged enough to commit a terror offence in the first instance.

Many anti-terror experts and those on the front line of preventing terror attacks agree. When I raised this exact issue with the Commission­er of the Australian Federal Police last year, he warned that some convicted terrorists actively fake deradicali­sation to get out of jail.

Just two weeks ago, a terror suspect under constant surveillan­ce by New Zealand’s anti-terror police walked into a supermarke­t and stabbed multiple people.

New Zealand’s Prime Minister expressed extreme frustratio­n at the lack of legal authority for security services to step in and prevent such an attack.

In the UK, a convicted terrorist stabbed two people to death in November 2019 after being released just halfway through a 16-year sentence, and in February 2020 terrorist Sudesh Amman was shot dead by police after stabbing two people only days after being released from prison.

In Australia, Minister Andrews outlined this week that there are 51 offenders serving prison sentences for terrorist offences, and another 32 before the courts. Several of these offenders are

reaching the end of their prison sentences in the next few years and each represents an ongoing threat to the Australian community.

It is dangerous, wishful thinking to believe these kinds of criminals can be rehabilita­ted. It is also extending them a courtesy which they do not deserve, at the expense of protecting Australian­s.

In my view, much more needs to be done, particular­ly by the courts, to recognise that terrorists belong in a separate category of dangerous offenders who have lost the right and the trust of the community to be on the streets. Child sex offenders belong in the same category.

Why should we gamble by releasing dangerous, inhuman offenders who have already proven they have no respect for laws or innocent lives?

The unfortunat­e reality is that most convicted terrorists and child sex offenders will be released back into the community at some stage.

When this occurs, authoritie­s must have strong powers to closely monitor and act quickly to prevent any further offending.

I would hope that the government’s efforts to provide our agencies with those powers is supported by all political parties.

 ??  ?? NZ PM Jacinda Ardern frustrated by a lack of legal authority for security services to prevent a recent attack in a NZ supermarke­t.
NZ PM Jacinda Ardern frustrated by a lack of legal authority for security services to prevent a recent attack in a NZ supermarke­t.

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