Although countering terrorism and violent extremism was not
a feature of the 2014–15 Budget, the Government announced a $630 million
counter-terrorism funding package in August 2014, detailed in the Mid-year
economic and fiscal outlook 2014–15 (MYEFO).
The 2015–16 Budget provides a further $326.4 million (including
$88.9 million beyond the forward estimates) for counter-terrorism and
broader national security measures, most of which will go to the Australian
Secret Intelligence Service (ASIS).
As outlined in Table 1 below, the bulk of the MYEFO
funding was allocated to intelligence, law enforcement and prosecution agencies.
While little has been made public about the funding for intelligence agencies,
specific measures in the package included:
$13.4 million to prevent and counter radicalisation and
involvement with extremist groups (including $1.6 million for the Living
Safe Together Grants Programme)
$50.7 million for measures relating to ‘foreign fighters’,
including a Community Diversion and Monitoring Team, local and regional liaison
officers and two new investigative teams for the Australian Federal Police and
a ‘multi-agency disruption group’, as well as $24.4 million to establish a
Foreign Fighters Task Force comprising 22 investigators and analysts in
the Australian Crime Commission
$50 million for the Australian Customs and Border Protection
Service to establish counter-terrorism units at Australia’s eight international
airports, $34.8 million to expand Advance Passenger Processing systems and
$13.7 for additional Airline Liaison Officers
Table 1: Counter-terrorism funding in the MYEFO
Intelligence agencies ($m)
enforcement and prosecution agencies ($m)
Australian Security Intelligence Organisation
Australian Secret Intelligence Service
of Immigration and Border Protection
Office of National Assessments
Customs and Border Protection Service
of Intelligence and Security
Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre
Director of Public Prosecutions
Source: J Hockey
(Treasurer) and M Cormann (Minister for Finance), Mid-year economic and fiscal outlook 2014–15
The additional funding in the 2015–16 Budget comprises:
$295.8 million over six years ($206.9 in the first four) for
ASIS to improve its capabilities, including updating information and
communications technology systems.
$21.7 million over four years for the Combating Terrorist
Propaganda in Australia measure initially announced by the Attorney-General in
February 2015. This will fund social
media monitoring and analysis capabilities, work aimed at reducing extremist
material online, a portal for members of the public to report extremist
material and assistance to community groups for work with vulnerable
$7.6 million over four years for the Office of National
Assessments and $0.7 million over four years for the Inspector-General of
Intelligence and Security, by exempting those agencies from the Efficiency
Dividend (partially implementing a recommendation of a review of
counter-terrorism machinery that reported in January 2015).
$1.3 million over four years to continue funding the
Independent National Security Legislation Monitor, which the Government
previously sought to abolish.
The Government states that it has tripled investment in
countering violent extremism (CVE) from around $3 million per year to
‘more than $40 million over four years’. However, the amount
allocated to these measures remains low in comparison to the additional funding
allocated to intelligence and law enforcement agencies in the 2014–15 MYEFO and
2015–16 Budget. The time it has taken to put these measures in place also
stands in contrast to the speed with which the Government moved to enact the tougher
counter-terrorism laws in the second half of 2014.
Some Muslim community leaders and counter-terrorism experts have expressed
concern at what they see as an imbalanced response, with disproportionate
resources directed to reactive measures such as law enforcement and prosecution
at the expense of prevention and intervention.
The Government’s own review of counter-terrorism machinery recognised
the value of CVE and recommended the Government ‘significantly boost’ CVE activities,
including seeking agreement from the Council of Australian Governments (COAG)
to a new CVE strategy in 2015. The review report noted
that without the right preventative measures in place, resource pressures on
operational agencies would continue to grow. There may be more to
come on this. COAG agreed in April 2015 to develop a new national
counter-terrorism strategy ‘with a strong focus on countering violent
extremism’, with further discussions to take place following a ‘special
retreat’ for COAG participants in July 2015.
T Abbott (Prime Minister) and G Brandis (Attorney-General), New
counter-terrorism measures for a safer Australia, media release,
5 August 2014; T Abbott (Prime Minister) and G Brandis
measures for a safer Australia, media release,
26 August 2014; J Hockey (Treasurer) and M Cormann (Minister for
economic and fiscal outlook 2014–15 (MYEFO 2014–15).
The budget figures in this article have been taken from the following
document unless otherwise sourced: Australian Government, Budget
measures: budget paper no. 2: 2015–16, 2015. This total does not
include funding for implementation of mandatory telecommunications data
retention or national security measures in the Defence and Immigration and
Border Protection portfolios, which are covered by separate articles in Budget
review 2015–16, ‘Telecommunications data retention’, ‘Defence overview’ and
‘Border protection and counter-people smuggling measures’. Included in the
Government’s total of $1.2 billion for national security are the funding for
ASIS and the Independent National Security Legislation Monitor outlined in this
article, data retention and Defence operations Afghanistan, Iraq and the Middle
Counter-terrorism measures for a safer Australia, op. cit.;
G Brandis (Attorney-General), Living
Safe Together Grants Programme—successful grant recipients, media
release, 2 May 2015. See further C Barker, Australian
Government measures to counter violent extremism: a quick guide,
Research paper series, 2014–15, Parliamentary Library, Canberra,
10 February 2015.
Counter-terrorism measures for a safer Australia, op. cit.;
M Keenan (Minister for Justice), $24 million
to establish Australian Crime Commission’s Foreign Fighters Taskforce, media
release, 2 September 2014.
T Abbott (Prime Minister) and P Dutton (Minister for
Immigration and Border Protection), Transcript
of doorstop, media release, 25 March 2015; S Morrison
(Minister for Immigration and Border Protection), New
measures at our borders to protect against terrorist threat, media
release, 10 September 2014.
G Brandis (Attorney-General), Combating
terrorist propaganda online, media release, 19 February 2015.
Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet, Review
of Australia’s counter-terrorism machinery, Australian Government,
Canberra, January 2015, p. 42.
Parliament of Australia, ‘Independent
National Security Legislation Monitor Repeal Bill 2014 homepage’,
Australian Parliament website; Australian Government, Budget
measures: budget paper no. 2: 2014–15, 2014, p. 187.
G Brandis (Attorney-General), Attorney-General’s
portfolio budget measures 2015–16, media release,
12 May 2015. This total appears to include $2 million per year
provided through the Australia New Zealand Counter Terrorism Committee in
addition to the $13.4 million and $21.7 million initiatives outlined above:
Senate Legal and Constitutional Affairs Legislation Committee, Answers to
Questions on Notice, Attorney-General’s Portfolio, Supplementary Estimates
2014–15, 20 November 2014, Question SBE14/187.
N Robinson, ‘Radical
“fan base” grows as funds sit idle’, The Australian,
16 January 2015, p. 1.
See for example E Reynolds, ‘The
$1m method to deradicalise Australia’s youth and prevent a terrorist attack’,
News.com.au, 3 November 2014; D Snow, ‘Reaching
out to radicals’, The Sydney Morning Herald,
31 January 2015, p. 32; M Safi, ‘Radicalisation
in Australia: Muslim leaders work to dissipate “fixation” with ISIS among
youths’, The Guardian (online edition), 10 March 2015.
Review of Australia’s counter-terrorism machinery, op. cit., pp. 30–35.
Ibid., p. 30.
Council of Australian Governments (COAG), Communique,
COAG Meeting, Canberra, 17 April 2015.
All online articles accessed May 2015.
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