Australia plans ban on foreign ‘hate preachers’

By Rod McGuirk, AP

CANBERRA, Australia–Australia will soon introduce a system to ban foreign “hate preachers” from entering the country and will attempt to outlaw the radical Islamic group Hizb-ut-Tahrir under proposed tougher counterterrorism laws, the prime minister said on Wednesday.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott said he was angry and frustrated that under existing counterterrorism laws his government could not outlaw Hizb-ut-Tahrir, which is banned in several other countries.

But under amendments currently before the Parliament, groups that promote terrorism would be banned. The current prohibition applies only to groups that engage in terrorism.

Abbott said he did not need new laws to ban hate preachers from traveling to Australia.

“By all means let Australians who want to say stupid things say stupid things, but there’s no point in importing troublemakers from overseas to stir people up and that’s what I want to see in place very, very swiftly,” Abbott told Sydney Radio 2GB.

“We should have a system in place which red-cards these hate preachers and stops them coming to Australia,” he added.

The government currently has the power to refuse visas on general character grounds.

Abbott later said there needed to be better coordination between security and immigration agencies to ensure that all known extremists were refused entry visas.

“Over the years, there have been all sorts of people come in to this country to cause trouble, to make a nuisance of themselves, to stir up Australian against Australian and as far as I am concerned, this will stop,” Abbott told reporters.

“I say to people who want to come to this country from overseas to peddle their extremist ideology, to divide Australian from Australian, to give implicit, if not explicit support for terrorism, don’t bother applying,” he said.