Leaders' Dialogue on Strategic Responses to Terrorist and Violent Extremist Narratives

23 Sep 2019
UN Headquarters, New York
Prime Minister

PRIME MINISTER: …Thank the panel before us for their leadership on this issue.

So we all know more than we ever wanted to know about terrorism. In our part of the world together with New Zealand, that was brought home to us in a very real sense very recently. In Australia we’ve averted 16 separate attacks through the outstanding work of our agencies in recent years.

And we now face a new threat as we all know, to peaceful societies. And the terrorists and violent extremists are weaponising the internet by spreading hate.

And we have a simple rule that says that our expectations of behaviour in the physical world should be the same as our expectations for behaviour in the digital world. Similarly the rules of the physical world, should equally apply in the rules of the digital world. There should be no leave passes or different tolerances for different types of behaviour along the lines that exist in real space. So we cannot allow the internet to be weaponised by violent extremists.

The terrible events of Christchurch has united Government, industry, and civil society to make sure that this can never happen again. God forbid it does. It’s exposed significant shortcomings though, the events in Christchurch, in industry and government responses which we now all addressing.

The industry is taking steps to prevent this foreign content being streamed and uploaded, re-uploaded on digital platforms. And it must. This hadn’t been the priority before. But I'm glad it is quickly becoming one now.

Through the shared terrorist violent extremist Christchurch protocol, government and industry will now work in lockstep to respond to a live-streamed attack. That’s good. And we endorsed these guidelines and strategy.

We also have a role to play in combatting the shared global challenge. That is why in support of our close neighbour and friend New Zealand, Australia led the G20 Leader’s statement on preventing exploitation of the Internet, terrorism, and violent extremism. I want to thank, in particular, the President of the G20, Shinzo Abe for allowing that to be part of the meetings in Osaka.

In our neighbourhood the ASEAN Regional Forum. They called for change and to meet citizen’s expectations that they would be protected from online harms. And to deliver on the commitment to provide regular public reporting of the Christchurch Call.

Australia, New Zealand and the OECD are developing voluntary transparency reporting protocols on the major platforms. This will set the first global reporting standards for industry to meet. And I welcome the support of all of those who have sought to shape these protocols.

We'll start by delivering a benchmark to practice. Defining metrics and creating a common network so that we can measure progress and take action together. These are the practical steps that are necessary.

And I think there is a widespread agreement about the need to take action. But we've got to keep checking up on ourselves to make sure it actually happens. Or we’ll let down everybody outside this room who depends on it.

In Australia we're working with industry to combat violent extremist content including introducing new criminal offences to ensure that it is expeditiously removed and reported to the police.

The industry built this new digital world and we have to work closely with them to ensure we can deal with the technologies that can help protect us from this digital world as well. Without the industries deep and engaged involvement in this, as committed to solving this problem as they are to pursuing the commercial objectives for which they were formed. Then it will be very difficult to overcome.

One thing is clear though, digital platforms must not be used to facilitate terrorism and violent extremism. Our shared sense of humanity must and will prevail. And the rules of the physical world must apply in the digital.

So Australia stands with all those here today, to expect the public trust in the digital environment continue. Thank you.