Australia to announce new counter-terrorism measures

Prime Minister Tony Abbott has indicated the government will soon announce further counter-terrorism laws and amendments amid “a growing challenge from foreign fighters and from home-grown terrorists”.

“You can be assured that this Government will do everything in our power to protect our people and to stop radicalised and brutalised people from roaming our streets”, Mr Abbott said in a pre-recorded video message.

The government is understood to be considering tougher measures beyond the previously suggested removal of citizenship of dual nationals who support, promote or are involved in any terrorism activities.

With bipartisan support, the parliament has already passed a number of bills to criminalize travel to terror hotspots, provide national security agencies with more power and funding, target foreign fighters and require telecommunications firms to retain internet and phone records for two years.

Australia has already carried out several counter-terrorism raids, averting six terrorist attacks, including recent plots in Sydney and Melbourne since the terror level was raised to high from medium in September 2014.

The prime minister said the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO) had  “over 400 priority counter-terrorism investigations”, with at least 250 Australians” ensnared by the Daesh (IS) death cult.

“To those young Australians contemplating joining this death cult, I say, think again,” Abbott said.

“Throwing in your lot with the most barbaric people in the most dangerous parts of the Earth could cost you your life. If you survive and seek to return, expect to face the consequences. You will face the full force of the law.”

The federal government is also working with the states to roll out a national strategy to prevent radicalisation and extremism in schools, and to tackle economic and social factors marginalizing or contributing radicalisation of the younger people who are often brainwashed online.