Children as young as 14 could pose a significant threat to Australia’s national security, Attorney-General George Brandis has told parliament as he introduced a fifth tranche of anti-terrorism legislation.
Senator Brandis said it was important that law enforcement was well equipped to stop terror attacks.
“This is the case even where the threats are posed by people under the age of 18 years,” he said on Thursday.
Under the draft laws, a control order could be issued against a person under 18 to protect the public or stop a young person supporting a terrorist act.
Orders could also be used to stop a teenager going overseas to engage in “hostile activity”.
The measures come with safeguards for children aged 14 to 17, including a maximum three months duration and an obligation on the courts to consider the child’s best interest.
Control orders, which are only issued by courts, can be used to stop someone leaving Australia, talking to certain people or performing duties like work.
They can also force someone to remain at a specified place for 12 hours, report at a certain time and place or wear a tracking device.
Since September last year, 26 people have been charged in relation to 10 counter-terrorism operations.
“And who can forget the recent terror related attacks at the Lindt Cafe, in Melbourne, and in Parramatta,” Senator Brandis said.
“These numbers and events highlight how serious is the threat we face.”
The bill also prohibits Australians from advocating genocide.
“Advocating genocide is abhorrent, can never be regarded as being an expression of political opinion, and has no place in our society,” Senator Brandis said.
WHAT THE BILL PROPOSES:
* Control orders for persons 14 years or older, with appropriate safeguards
* Enhanced search, telecommunications interception and surveillance device powers
* Greater protection to sensitive information in control order proceedings
* New offence of advocating genocide.