Jun 14, 2017

Counter Terrorism Speech – 19 June 2017

I would like to thank the member for La Trobe for moving this motion that relates to terrorism and terrorism offences relating to the 2016 Christmas Day terror plot and other matters. It talks about the number of people that have been charged, the number of people that have been convicted, the number of people before the courts on terrorism offences and the disruption that has occurred to terrorist plots by the AFP and our intelligence agencies. It talks about the issue of violence and extremism that we are confronting collectively.

This has a very personal aspect for me, as I have said in this place on numerous occasions. It particularly has a personal aspect, I am sure, for two particular people and others that will be watching the address that I give here this evening. On 23 September 2014 terrorism took place in my electorate of Holt—a place I never thought would ever feel the touch of terrorism. That was at the Endeavour Hills Police Station, when a young individual attempted to kill two counterterrorism police officers. If it were not for the bravery of both of those officers and if not for the response of one of those officers in that life-threatening situation, both officers would have died. My children used to play in the area when they were younger. This was one of the first events that happened in the Western world post a particular edict that was issued by the Islamic State about attacking police officers. Little did I know that it would happen on my doorstep, on the evening of 23 September 2014.

There were two very fine individuals that were involved in that event—two police officers. I am proud to say that I know both of those police officers as friends and as two individuals that have experienced a lot. The media pays attention to the immediacy of the event, but those two individuals still live with that night. We are waiting for the coroner’s findings. I am hoping that after nearly three years those two officers find some peace when the coroner brings down his findings about that night. I am quite sure that the officers will be mentioned very favourably in terms of their endeavours and what they did on that evening. That evening is going to live with them for the rest of their lives. When we are talking about terrorism we are talking about the impact. It is never going to leave those two individuals. I just wanted to assure them, because they will see this speech, and to thank them for their sacrifice, to thank them for what they did and to say that I will continue to support them and remember the sacrifice they made that night on 23 September 2014.

I was not involved in Operation Rising but I happened to stumble across Rising before it occurred, which was the Anzac Day plot. I would particularly like to thank the special operations group that was involved in that, and in particular the individual I would call the spiritual head of the special operations group. I want to thank this officer for his insight, for his support of his officers and for the guidance he provides to the officers in the special operations group.

What we are confronting here is an ideology as powerful as any that I have ever seen. I think what the public needs to understand is that, notwithstanding potential combat victories in Syria and Iraq, this ideology is not just going to be extinguished. We are going to be dealing with the manifestations of this ideology—this perversion—for a long period of time. I would counsel those who would think that, because we are going to defeat these people, we will not see events occurring on our shore. I said in 2014 that I thought, on the basis of what I was being told by intelligence agencies, that we would have a terrorist attack in our country, and it occurred. We will have other events, Mr Deputy Speaker Hastie, as you know, that will happen on our shores.

One thing I will tell those who might be even thinking about perpetrating this sort of act is this: never underestimate the Australian people. Never underestimate their strength and resolve. Our values and our society will always be and will always outlast those who seek to divide us and seek to terrorise us. As you can see with what they have done in Manchester and in other attacks on English soil, they have made a mistake to awaken the Blitz spirit of the British, and they will find the same will occur to them if they try to do that in this country. They will never break our resolve. We will defeat them not just militarily but ideologically. We will not succumb to their threat of terrorism. We will not succumb to what they will try to do to our country.


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