I welcome the contribution just made by the chair of the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security and I also strongly support the private member’s motion by the member for Bass. I would also pay tribute, as the chair has done, to his service to the committee but also to his service to his country in a previous life. That makes the member for Bass, I think, quite qualified to speak about these particular issues, because he has been at the coalface dealing with these issues.
I would agree with everyone that has made a contribution so far that there is no more important job that we can do as members of this committee than to keep our country safe. It is almost a sacred responsibility. All else flows from that. You cannot have economic security without physical security. So I support the government’s endeavours thus far in making our country safer. To demonstrate the nature of that bipartisan support, there have been, in my mind, 3½—almost four—tranches of legislation that have been put through this parliament to strengthen our security laws to give the security agencies the powers that they need to continue to keep our country safe, with appropriate safeguards. I asked my very trustworthy staff member to check how many amendments we have made to the legislation that has been put forward in our committee. In total it is 109 amendments, and we have had 68 legislative changes as a consequence of the work of the committee.
Why do I raise that? I raise it because there has been a lot of loose talk by certain sections of the media about the need for these laws. Clearly these people do not get in a car and travel to where I live, because on 23 September last year terrorism visited our doorstep—my doorstep, almost literally—when an assailant attempted to murder two policemen and, had he been successful in murdering those policemen, would then have attempted to attack and kill those in the police station. So when I read media commentary about whether or not these laws are needed, and some scepticism about why these laws are needed, I can say to those people that are writing this that they clearly have not been down to my electorate. The associates of that assailant who was killed by our police officers are before the courts again, and so I am fully seized by the government’s desire to keep our country and community safe. It is bewildering to me why in the discourse about our security legislation that certain sections of the media commentariat do not understand why we need to be putting these laws through our parliament. I have lived why we need to put these laws through the parliament, and we continue to live those reasons. When the Prime Minister quite reasonably puts forward a proposition for further strengthening the laws of the nation to keep our community safe, I think he should be given the appropriate respect. There should be an appropriate discussion, and this matter should be referred to our bipartisan committee. There is no benefit to our national security in these matters not being bipartisan. We must be in lockstep with our security agencies.
If this power, for example, with respect to dual citizens is something that our agencies require, then our parliament must give it the most earnest consideration. It must come before our committee, and we must have a serious, mature, reasoned debate because we have to be the voice of reason in these very challenging times. We must understand what we are confronting. We are confronting something that is almost a nation-state, a caliphate, whose goal is to spread itself into a worldwide caliphate. So for people to say that this is not going to come and visit our shores, I say: ‘Well, it has visited our shores on a number of occasions and is continuing to do so.’ I know for a fact that there are a very large number of individuals who are on our national security authorities’ radar. The purpose of my contribution is to support the member for Bass’s motion and to reinforce why we need to continue to have a mature discussion about the laws that our country needs to keep us safe. As I said, I have no greater responsibility than to keep my country and my community safe.