Extremism committee shelves final report

By Tom Ravlic

April 4, 2022

Senator Paterson says legislation by its nature restricts, regulates and controls and none of it should be just there to sit on the statute forever.
Senator James Paterson, committee chair. (AAP Image/Mick Tsikas)

Australians will not know before the federal election the final thoughts of a committee examining extremism and radicalisation in Australia.

The Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security was given a reference for an inquiry on extremism and radicalism, which was to examine Islamist and right-wing extremism in the first instance, in December 2020 and it received an unknown number of submissions.

Only submissions from 19 organisations have been made public.

Two days of public hearings were held in April 2021 and the committee has had a range of private briefings from experts in the topic area.

What caused the extremism inquiry to not reach completion, however, was the fact that the committee had a large workload during the parliament, with endless pieces of legislation and other specific inquiries, such as the recently concluded inquiry on foreign influence at Australian universities.

It issued 37 reports since it began convening following the 2019 election, and 22 of those reports were pushed out over the past 12 months.

Committee chair senator James Paterson said in an interim report on the extremism inquiry recently released that the committee thanks everyone who got involved in the inquiry but that the committee was unable to complete its deliberations because of a very full inbox.

“The PJCIS has maintained a strong interest in national security matters in relation to extremist movements and radicalisation in Australia, including through this inquiry and other reviews and inquiries it has undertaken during the last three years,” Paterson said.

“While its work on this inquiry has been very worthwhile and has informed the committee’s broader work, the PJCIS has been unable to complete the inquiry during the 46th Parliament due to other pressing demands.”

Paterson said the committee believes the inquiry ought to resume with the reconstituted committee following the coming election.

“All evidence received by the committee during this inquiry would be available and will inform the work of a future [committee],” Paterson said.


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