Nation’s security high on budget agenda

The Abbott government has listed keeping Australians safe as one of its chief priorities, outlaying a massive $35 billion for defence, national security and law enforcement.

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In handing down his second budget on Tuesday, Treasurer Joe Hockey told the parliament the government would not take “shortcuts” on national security.

The massive spend includes $450 million for federal police, spy agencies and community groups to counter extremism, on top of $630 million announced last year.

There is also $750 million in new money to extend and expand Australia’s military operations in Afghanistan, Iraq and other areas in the Middle East as the nation continues to contribute to the war on terror and efforts at countering groups such as Islamic State.

The budget includes $131 million to help telcos and internet service providers upgrade their systems to enable them to collect customer metadata.

The highest responsibility of any government was the safety and security of its citizens, Mr Hockey said.

“When it comes to national security, there can be no shortcuts.”

Events as recently as last weekend, when a 17-year-old Melbourne boy was arrested in counter-terrorism raids, showed increasing the investment in national security would help prevent tragic incidents from happening.

The announcements on national security were accompanied by a glossy handout which outlined the threat to Australia.

“The number of high-risk terrorist threats being monitored by security agencies has doubled in the last year and is now around 400,” the document said.

And since 2001, there had been 70 arrests, 35 prosecutions and 26 convictions as a result of counter-terrorism operations.

Between September 2014 and April 2015, police made 22 arrests on seven counter-terrorism operations – almost one-third of all arrests as a result of counter-terrorism operations since 2001.

“The threat of terrorism is rising and ever evolving and our response must be swift and uncompromising,” Mr Hockey said, adding Australia must have the best counter-terrorism capabilities possible.

WHAT’S IN THE BUDGET FOR NATIONAL SECURITY:¶

* Total of $1.2 billion in new funding for national security.¶

* $450 million to strengthen intelligence capabilities and counter extremist messaging.¶

* $131 million to assist telecommunications industry in collection of metadata.¶