Dutton Pushes For 2-Year Ban on Extremists

July 4, 2019 Updated: July 4, 2019

Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton will introduce new laws banning Australians involved in terror overseas from re-entering the country for up to two years.

Australians suspected of involvement in terror activities overseas are soon likely to be temporarily banned from returning home.

The federal government will on July 4 introduce legislation stopping any citizen suspected of extremism from returning to Australia for up to two years.

“We need the support of the Labor Party, obviously, but we want to get the laws through as quickly as possible,” Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton told reporters in Canberra on July 3.

“They build on the changes we have already made to make sure that we can keep Australians safe.”

People returning from conflict zones would be ordered to remain overseas for up to two years, possibly in refugee camps, before being issued with a permit to come home once protections were put in place.

Labor has previously raised concerns the temporary exclusion orders could breach the constitution by leaving Australian citizens stateless.

Dutton insists that legal hole has been plugged through stronger rights to appeal.

He says the new anti-terror legislation is not unprecedented, because the United Kingdom has similar laws.

Parliament’s powerful intelligence and security committee has recommended the legislation be passed, subject to 18 changes.

Opposition home affairs spokeswoman Kristina Keneally said Labor was awaiting the government’s response to the bipartisan suggestions before supporting the bill.

“The government has yet to respond to those recommendations or to give us a copy of the legislation,” Senator Keneally told ABC radio.

“We are ready and willing to work with the government, but we need to see that legislation, we need to see the government’s responses.”

Labor backbencher Ed Husic highlighted that the security committee had also put forward a raft of recommended checks and balances.

“Now the test is on the government, whether or not they’ll accept that, and in full good faith reflect what the committee has done.”

The laws were first proposed last year, after terror attacks in Melbourne and Christchurch.

On July 3, two Sydney men were charged over an alleged ISIS-inspired plot to attack police stations, consulates and churches.

Dutton said separate changes to national security laws giving authorities more power to access encrypted messages had been reaping dividends.

“It has played a role, and a very positive role, in a number of investigations,” he told the Nine Network.

However, the minister would not say whether the encryption laws specifically helped in this week’s case, stressing investigators would have used various approaches.

“Obviously, when we’ve got 200 people who are involved in the investigation, there are many elements that would have brought this to fruition.”

By Daniel McCulloch