In a move to ensure that law-abiding, tax-paying Australians will not be funding terrorist activities, the federal government will cease welfare benefits to anyone associated with any activity that might be a threat to national security.
Prime Minister Tony Abbott said on Saturday, “Now, this is a new power that will be used with discretion but nevertheless we do believe that, particularly for people who are heading overseas, there should be the ability in the hands of the government to remove social security benefits from them.”
“The last thing we want is terrorism tourism on the taxpayer and there will be no terrorism tourism on the taxpayer as a result of these measures that we will be putting before the parliament.”
Abbott said that one Australian with terrorist ties is “one too many”.
“We do know that some high-profile cases of Australians who have gone overseas to fight with various terrorist organisations, one gentleman in particular who has become absolutely notorious for the most bloodthirsty work as part of his activities with terrorist groups in Syria and Iraq, has been on social security.”
“Welfare should be available for people who need it. It’s not for going overseas and engaging in terrorism. I’ll state that again: it’s not for going overseas and engaging in terrorism,” said Social Services Minister Kevin Andrews adding that the government came to this decision based on advice from security agencies.
All though the new law will be used ‘sparingly’ Mr Abbott added that, “It will certainly be used rigorously against anyone who we think has gone overseas to become involved with a terrorist group.”
Last week, a 19 year old Australian man was deported back to Australia after slipping out of the country allegedly to fight alongside Islamic State jihadists.