Ms JULIE BISHOP (Curtin—Minister for Foreign Affairs) (14:47): I thank the member for Page for his question. As I indicated to the House yesterday, the government is deeply concerned by the dire situation in Iraq and Syria and the brutal actions of terrorist groups, including the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, ISIL. This is an offshoot of al-Qaeda but it seems that it is so savage that even al-Qaeda is distancing itself from this group. Of the 150 Australian citizens that I have previously mentioned, we believe that more than 100 of them are actively engaged with extremist groups in Syria and Iraq at this time. The conflict has also attracted the citizens of a number of other countries. We are aware that a disturbingly large number of people from the Middle East, the United Kingdom, Europe, the United States and also from our region, Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines, are also in or are travelling to Syria and Iraq to join the fighting. The Syrian-Iraq conflict is now a growing threat to global security and is one of the most serious challenges to Australia's domestic security for some time.
The Australian government condemns terrorism in the strongest possible terms. We are taking a whole-of-government approach to this threat. A range of government agencies, including our intelligence agencies, are involved in tracking extremists, monitoring those who are seeking to engage with these groups, and that includes activities like recruitment and facilitation and fundraising. We are working closely with a number of other nations to counter the threat of people who have been radicalised and who have trained as terrorists. We are taking a leadership role within the UN Security Council as chair of the Al-Qaida Sanctions Committee, helping coordinate the efforts of all nations confronted with the terrorist threat.
The government has recently renewed 83 terrorist listings in accordance with Security Council resolutions on combating terrorism. We are seeking to expand our counter-terrorism cooperation with countries in our region, including Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines. Recalling that a number of the convicted Bali bombers trained with al-Qaeda, we are building on the strong counter-terrorism relationship that was forged with Indonesia in the aftermath of the Bali bombings, including intelligence sharing, border and transport security and law enforcement, for this cooperation has already foiled a number of terrorist plots and saved many lives.
ISIL is a listed terrorist organisation. It is important that no Australian engages in any way with this group renowned for its extreme brutality. There are significant penalties, including imprisonment of up to 25 years, for a range of terrorist offences, and I will continue to cancel the passports of those suspected of being a threat to Australia's security. Our nation is built on tolerance and respect for others. We will not hesitate to take action against those who are a threat to national security.
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