Doorstop – Council of Australian Governments

Transcript
09 Jun 2017
Hobart, Tasmania
Prime Minister
COAG
E&OE

PRIME MINISTER:

Good morning.

I’m looking forward today to the leaders of Australia’s governments committing to stronger and consistent laws relating to the granting of parole and bail so that there will be a strong presumption against the granting of parole and bail to persons who have shown support for or have links to violent extremism or terrorism. This is vitally important.

With our national security laws and practices, we cannot have ‘set and forget’. That is why as Prime Minister I have consistently led reform, agile reform.

We must be faster, smarter, more agile, more responsive than those who seek to do us harm.

At my first COAG meeting, I asked the states and territories to agree to a regime that allows post-sentence detention for persons who have been in jail on terrorist offences and have not rehabilitated and have been shown to continue to be a threat. That is now the law of the land.

We have seen with parole, with the terrorist attack in Melbourne this week, we have seen a person granted parole that shouldn't have been granted parole, with his track record, with his shocking track record of violence and connection to terrorist causes.

So the consistent, stronger approach that I am confident state and territory leaders will adopt today in the national interest is one that will give reassurance to Australians.

Equally, we will be presented today with a report from Dr Finkel on energy security. Again, it is important that we commit to ensuring that we deliver the certainty, the investment certainty that will enable Australians to have affordable, reliable electricity and of course, meet our emissions reduction targets. So we look forward to Dr Finkel's report.

JOURNALIST:

Will the Finkel reports proposal for a CET or an LET, actually allow bipartisanship in Australian politics? And are you confident you’ll be able to get it through the Coalition Party Room and end the climate wars?

PRIME MINISTER:

The important objective that we have is to take the ideology and politics out of this issue.

As I have said for a long time now, my approach to energy policy, my government’s approach to energy policy, is grounded in economics and engineering - not in ideology, not in politics, not in partisanship.

The focus has got to be to achieve those three things - affordable electricity, reliable and secure electricity, and of course meet our emissions reduction targets.

Now, that's the task Dr Finkel has been set and we look forward to his report, which will be very carefully considered by governments, obviously today and in the weeks that follow.

JOURNALIST:

Do you think the Victorian proposal for federal courts, federal jails for terrorism? Does that abdicate the state responsibility for those issues?

PRIME MINISTER:

I'm not sure what proposal you are referring to but let me just make a couple of points very clear, I want to reassure Australians about this - there is, right now, the closest cooperation between state and federal law enforcement agencies, intelligence agencies, security agencies on the matter of terrorism. On many other matters, I might add. But in particular, with respect to counter-terrorism - in each jurisdiction, there is a JCTT, a Joint Counter-Terrorism Team, the members of which are the state police, the AFP, the Australian Federal Police and ASIO. There is the closest cooperation now - the operations that are going on in Melbourne today is an example of that level of cooperation.

You’ll recall the 12 plots that have been disrupted and uncovered, terrorist plots including the major conspiracy to launch an explosives attack in the vicinity of Federation Square just before Christmas, in Melbourne - they are an example of the intense degree of cooperation.

Now, the decision for granting bail or granting parole I should say, to a person who has been convicted of a state offence and is in a state prison, is ultimately a decision for the state government. Now if it chooses to have a parole board to do that, then it is a decision for the parole board but ultimately it's the responsibility of that State Government.

But all of the information about a prisoner's antecedents, are all available through the JCTT, through to the state police and then through to the body making the decision about parole.

But I can assure you that my commitment is to work as closely as possible with state governments.

We have very, very close collaboration and that is why we have been able to prevent 12 terrorist attacks and arrest 63 persons on terrorist charges since September 2014.

JOURNALIST:

What about the news the UK will be heading for a hung parliament?

PRIME MINISTER:

Few things should surprise you in politics in the 21st century but I will leave the commentary to experts like yourself.

JOURNALIST:

Prime Minister do you support the idea of having federal prisons for terrorists?

PRIME MINISTER:

That is an idea that hasn't been raised with me. We have a system that is working at the moment in terms of incarceration.

What is critical is that people who are a threat to Australians are not out on the streets.

Let me be very clear, if you have someone who has terrorist sympathies and who has a propensity to violence, every day they are not on the street is a good day, it is a good day.

And so we want to ensure that people with those characteristics are not out on the streets.

Now, that is why I look forward to the First Ministers today agreeing that there will be a strong presumption against bail or parole for persons who have shown support for or have had links to terrorism or violent extremism.

The critical thing is to protect the public, is to protect the safety of Australians. That is what Australians expect their leaders, here assembled in Hobart, to agree to do.

So that’s our job, to provide the security and the assurance that Australians need.

JOURNALIST:

What did you make of Saudi Arabia not observing the minute's silence in Adelaide last night for the victims of the London terror attack?

PRIME MINISTER:

Well I haven't seen the video - it was just raised with me on the way here.

The whole world, the whole free world is united in condemnation of that terrorist attack and terrorism generally, and in sympathy and love for the victims and their families.

The heartbreaking, heartbreaking loss of young Australians in London, of course in Baghdad, and just this week in Melbourne to these murderous terrorists - everybody, everyone should be united in condemnation of the terrorists and love and sympathy and respect for the victims and their families.

Thanks very much.

[ENDS]