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Inquiry into extremist movements and radicalism in Australia

The submission to the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security in response to the Inquiry into extremist movements and radicalism in Australia was prepared by the Law Council of Australia. 

The submission provides some high-level remarks relevant to the potential legislative measures identified in the Committee’s third term of reference, namely:

(a) changes that could be made to the Commonwealth's terrorist organisation listing laws to ensure they are fit for purpose, address current and emerging terrorist threats, reflect international best practice, and provide a barrier to those who may seek to promote an extremist ideology in Australia;

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(d) further steps that the Commonwealth could take to disrupt and deter hate speech and establish thresholds to regulate the use of symbols and insignia associated with terrorism and extremism, including online, giving consideration to the experience of other countries.

The Law Council acknowledges the current public advice from security agencies that the national terrorism threat level remains at PROBABLE; and that while Sunni Islamic extremism remains the primary terrorism threat facing Australia, right wing extremist groups and individuals also present an increasing and evolving threat, accounting for approximately one third of the counter-terrorism investigations undertaken by the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO) in 2019-20.1

Given this context, it is desirable that there is ongoing reflection on the operation of Australia’s laws, policies and practices as the domestic and global security environment evolves. As has occurred with this inquiry, it is important that the Parliament plays a pro-active and participatory role in undertaking such reviews and evaluations. It is desirable that Parliamentary and public engagement and involvement occurs well before the ‘reactive’ task of scrutinising proposed legislation, which has been developed internally by the government, on the basis of a unilateral assessment of the necessity of legislative action, in the specific form proposed.

The Law Council welcomes opportunities for early Parliamentary and public stakeholder engagement on the threshold question of whether legislative intervention is necessary, before being presented with a Bill reflecting a concluded view of the executive government. It is hoped that this approach is utilised more broadly in future.

You can read the full submission below.
 


1 ASIO, Annual report, 2019-20, (September 2020), 17-19.
 

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