New laws will keep terrorists behind bars longer

Terrorists and their supporters will find it significantly harder to get bail or parole under new laws passed by Federal Parliament today.

The Counter Terrorism Legislation Amendment (2019 Measures No. 1) Bill creates a presumption against parole and extends the presumption against bail for terrorists and their supporters.

The Bill also closes a loophole that could have prevented some high-risk terrorists from being kept in custody after their sentences expired on what are known as continuing detention orders (CDOs).

Attorney-General Christian Porter and Minister for Home Affairs Peter Dutton said prison is where terrorists belong and the changes will ensure that community safety is the primary consideration when decisions about whether to release dangerous individuals are made.

“The Morrison Government makes no apologies for the tough steps we are taking to protect the community from the very real and ongoing threat of terrorist attacks,” the Attorney-General said.

“The presumption against parole for all convicted terrorists, means they won’t be released early to potentially reoffend like the terrorist responsible for last week’s horrific attack in London who had only served about half of his sentence.

“The Bill also expands the circumstances in which a presumption against bail applies, capturing those with previous convictions for terror offences, as well as people who have openly shown support for terror groups.”

The Home Affairs Minister said the arrest of an alleged terrorist in Sydney today was an important reminder that the threat hasn’t gone away.

“We have now passed 19 important pieces of national security legislation. This is a timely and vital Bill that reflects the Morrison Government’s resolve to ensure dangerous terrorist offenders do not get another chance to terrorise our communities.

“I pay tribute to ASIO, the Australian Federal Police and all of the frontline officers who dedicate themselves to preventing potential tragedies here on Australian soil.

“Whether it is by providing record funding for our law enforcement agencies, strengthening our borders, or passing tough laws to keep terrorists in prison where they belong, our first priority is keeping every Australian safe and secure,” Mr Dutton said.

The decision to expand the presumption against bail was a recommendation of the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) following a 2017 terror attack in Brighton, Victoria, by a man who was on bail at the time and had previously been charged with a terror offence.

Since the national terrorism threat level was raised to “Probable” in September 2014, there have been seven terrorist attacks on Australian soil and 16 plots have been disrupted by our agencies.

During the same period, 76 people have been convicted of terrorism related offences and 10 of these individuals are due for release in the next twelve months.

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