COVID-19 pandemic ‘a near-perfect environment’ for ‘propaganda and radicalisation’

Labor Senator Kristina Kenneally says right-wing extremism now accounts for up to 40 per cent of the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation’s counter-terrorism efforts and the COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated the threat.

“This is an increasing and accelerating threat. COVID has accelerated the threat. It’s been a near-perfect environment for propaganda and radicalisation,” she said.

“What we as a parliament have to do, is take that evidence and determine whether our counter-terrorism tools, which have been geared toward Islamic extremism, are fit for purpose.”

Ms Kenneally acknowledged the approach was bipartisan but noted Peter Dutton was “playing the player and not the ball” following comments Labor ministers were coming at the issue from a base of ignorance on work ASIO was doing in the counter-terror space.

Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton ordered an inquiry into extremist terror threats after Labor pushed for a review of existing terror laws to include right-wing extremist groups.

“Our prescription laws appear not to be fit for purpose to list extremist groups,” Senator Kenneally said.

“We’re the only Five Eyes partner country that hasn’t done so… there are groups listed in Canada and the United Kingdom that have local chapters here and we haven’t listed them.

“It’s reasonable to ask why.”

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