SYDNEY (AFP) – The government will next week introduce legislation in parliament to tackle a growing terror threat, the attorney general said Saturday, in the aftermath of Australia’s biggest crackdown in history.
George Brandis announced the National Security Legislation Amendment Bill would go before the Senate on Wednesday.
“These bills will give our national security agencies and the Australian federal police stronger powers, but there will also be stronger protections,” he said.
“The government has gone about this task of re-writing Australia’s national security legislation for the first time in a generation… to ensure that the agencies have all the powers that they need to keep Australians safe without in any way diminishing the oversight by parliament and… without in any way diminishing protections.”
Brandis did not disclose the extent of the new powers or oversights but said there was bi-partisan support for the legislation and he expected the “agency powers” bill to clear parliament within a fortnight and the “foreign fighter” bill in the coming weeks.
Thursday’s unprecedented raids in Sydney and Brisbane foiled a plot by Islamic State mnilitants to carry out gruesome “demonstration executions” that could have taken place within days, Prime Minister Tony Abbott said.
Justice Minister Michael Keenan explained that the new laws would “modernise” existing legislation.
“The threat of the random act of violence that was acted upon on Thursday’s raids is obviously quite different to the sorts of traditional terrorist activity that we might have been targeting,” he said.
“We need to make sure that we’ve got a regime in Australia that’s modern and flexible.”
Security has been stepped up across the country after parliament and government officials had been mentioned as potential targets in “chatter” between extremist networks in the Middle East and Australia.