KELLY TO THE MINISTER FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS

My question is to the Minister for Foreign Affairs.

Will the Minister update the House on the work the government is doing with our friends and allies to combat the terrorist threat?

Ms JULIE BISHOP (Curtin—Minister for Foreign Affairs) (14:13): The counterterrorism raids in Sydney this morning remind us of the very real threat of terrorism to Australians here and overseas. It is a global threat and it demands a global response. I can confirm to the member for Hughes, and indeed to this House, that Australia is taking a lead role internationally to combat the terrorist threat, and we are working to strengthen our counterterrorism cooperation with our friends, allies and partners. I can confirm that the list of those who are in pursuit of this task is growing.

Twenty Australian Government agencies are working to improve the capacity of other countries in our region, including Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines, to combat terrorism in areas such as law enforcement, criminal justice, border and transport security and counterterrorism financing. In the Middle East, along with the United States, United Kingdom, Canada and others, we are supporting international efforts to combat Daesh, this vile terrorist organisation, and we are building up our counterterrorism networks to stem the flow of foreign fighters, including from Australia to Iraq and Syria.

During my recent visit to the United Arab Emirates, Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah and I discussed ways to strengthen our cooperation with countries of the Middle East to combat Daesh. The UAE and Jordan are conducting air strikes against Daesh targets in Syria. Australia, as part of international coalition, has taken part in hundreds of air strikes against Daesh targets to disrupt Daesh in Iraq. We have over 600 personnel in the Middle East. This is a substantial contribution to this global effort to combat terrorism. Alarmingly, we have indications that Daesh is seeking to spread its evil tentacles to Afghanistan, where it is actively seeking to recruit foreign fighters to its cause. I was briefed on this potentially evil connection during my visit to Afghanistan on Australia Day. I confirmed to President Ghani and Chief Executive Officer Abdullah Australia's ongoing commitment to combating the terrorist threat in Afghanistan and to building on the security gains in that country since 2001. We will continue to work closely with the US and the UK to strengthen cooperation, particularly through the Five Eyes intelligence arrangement. This was a key focus of last week's Australian-UK ministerial meeting in Sydney. We are also increasing the exchange of information, experiences and intelligence on foreign fighters throughout our region, throughout the Middle East and in Europe.

This government is utterly committed to taking a lead role in international efforts to combat terrorism so that we can keep our country and our people safe.

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