Civil Liberties Negotiable, Says Costello
THE civil liberties of some Australians will have to be
curtailed in the fight against terrorism, Treasurer Peter Costello said today.
The continuing fight against terror would also require
more money, Mr Costello said.
"It is going to take considerable resources in monetary
terms, it is going to take laws that will curtail the civil
liberties of some people and it is going to take a long
resolve of will from the Government and the people to meet
this, and I think in that sense there is a realism dawning
over a lot of people that this is going to be a long haul," he
said on Southern Cross radio in Melbourne.
The comments came following Prime Minster John Howard's announcement
that he will soon reveal tougher counter-terrorism laws, after pro-jihad
statements by the leader of a fundamentalist Islamic group in Melbourne.
Mr Howard said a tightening of Australia's terror laws was imminent, with
authorities to be given greater power to monitor extremists.
"As far as future changes are concerned, we are examining what, if
any, changes should be made to the law," he said on ABC television.
"And I had a detailed briefing from senior people in my department
about that this afternoon and I'll be having something more to say about it very shortly."
Yesterday Abdul Nacer Benbrika, also known as Abu Bakr, said
Islam does not tolerate other religions and it is okay for
Australian Muslims to fight coalition troops in Iraq.
"You may find many Muslims fighting in Iraq or in Afghanistan
which because they believe they are a brother, as John Howard
is helping (US President George W.) Bush in his war, then the
people they do the same," he said.
"According to my religion, jihad is a part of my religion and
what you have to understand that anyone who fights for the sake
of Allah, when he dies, the first drop of blood that comes from
him out all his sin will be forgiven."
Mr Benbrika is a dual Algerian and Australian citizen who has
lived in Melbourne's northern suburbs since 1989.
He denies being involved in terrorist activities, but supports Osama bin Laden.
"Osama bin Laden, he is a great man," he told ABC radio yesterday.
"Osama bin Laden was a great man before 11 September,
which they said he did it, until now nobody knows who did it."
Mr Benbrika also said Muslims faced a problem in
Australia as to whether to obey Australian or Islamic laws.
"There are two laws, there is Australian law, there is Islamic law," he said.
On other religions, he said: "I am not only against the
Jew. I am against anyone who try to harm my religion.
"I am telling you that my religion doesn't tolerate other religion."
Mr Costello said the ideals and values of the oath of
allegiance had to be re-emphasised in light of new
citizens who were seemingly opposed to key elements of Australia's oath.
Taking the oath of allegiance of Australia meant
accepting its laws and institutions and those who
did not want to do that should never come to Australia in the first place, he said.
"I think we need to re-emphasise the importance of these
laws and we need to say to people very clearly and very
openly, that if you don't like this system in Australia, don't
come here in the first place," he said.
"We say to people, you want to come and live in Australia, you
are living under Australian law, don't come here if you don't accept
Australian law, don't come here if you don't accept the
parliamentary system and democracy.
"If you want to look for other models of government, go and
find countries where they are practiced."
Mr Costello said words were almost as dangerous as terrorist acts themselves.
"Words which incite people to violence are dangerous and
if you incite somebody to violence you are as responsible
for the violence as the person that actually does it," he said.
Mr Costello rejected Abdul Bakr's support for Osama bin
Laden, and any notion of two laws operating in Australia.
"The statement that there are two laws in Australia, again
is very dangerous – there is only one law in Australia – there is
the law made by Australian parliaments, that is the law of Australia,
there isn't some second law to be followed and everybody who comes to
Australia ought to know that," he said.
"We are one country under one law, it is that simple." Earlier, Mr Howard
rejected Mr Benbrika's claims, but said it was difficult to comment
directly on Mr Benbrika because he was a person of interest to government
agencies and he did not want to say anything which might prejudice any future proceedings.
"I regard myself as an Australian being subject to the laws of this
country and I think suggestions that there is an exclusivity of
religious belief in this country is against the values we hold.
"I think it's also very unfair and damaging to those hundreds of
thousands of Muslim Australians who share my view ... that we
should respect other religions and we should try and live in
tolerance and harmony in this country."
Australian spy agency ASIO confiscated Mr Benbrika's passport
in March after it raided his home, amid concerns he could
prejudice the security of Australia if he travelled overseas,
according to ABC radio.
Australian Federal Police Commissioner Mick Keelty confirmed
this week there are about 60 Islamic extremists in Australia.