Dutton orders inquiry into terror threats

Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton has ordered an inquiry into extremist movements and radicalism in Australia.

His request comes after Labor senator Kristina Keneally demanded a review of Australia’s terror laws to ensure they are equipped to respond to the growing threat of right-wing terror.

It also follows the arrest of an 18-year-old Albury man accused of encouraging others to commit violent right-wing extremist acts.

Parliament’s powerful intelligence and security committee will examine the nature of extremist movements and individuals, as well as the threat they pose.

The committee will closely examine the motivations, objectives and capacity for violence of Islamist and far right extremists groups, and how their tactics have changed during the coronavirus pandemic.

It will also investigate the danger high risk terrorist offenders pose to the community.

Mr Dutton has asked the committee to look into the geographic spread of extremist movements and their links to international organisations.

The committee will consider changes that could be made to laws around listing terror groups, as well as potential changes to Australia’s counter-terrorism strategy and links between state and federal agencies.

It will also look at radical and extremist groups that fall short of the legal standard required to be considered a terror organisation, examining the role they play in radicalising people and fostering disharmony.

Mr Dutton has asked the committee to investigate steps the Commonwealth could take to reinforce social cohesion, counter violent extremism and address the “growing diversity” of extremism in Australia.

Earlier this year, ASIO said right-wing violent extremism occupied between 30 and 40 per cent of its counter-terror caseload, an increase from between 10 and 15 per cent in 2016.

Labor argues the Morrison government is dragging its feel in taking action against right-wing extremism.

Senator Keneally has highlighted two neo-Nazi groups listed as terrorist organisation in Canada have chapters in Australia that have not been outlawed.

Mr Dutton also wants the committee to probe the role of social media, encrypted communications platforms and the dark web in allowing extremists to communicate and organise.

It has been told to report back by the end of April.

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