THERE is no doubt the Australian government is expected to be vigilant in preventing the return to Australia of those found to have fought overseas with terrorist groups and then seek to spread radicalised Islamic views.
However, Prime Minister Tony Abbott must be equally vigilant in ensuring his “Team Australia” doesn’t become a vehicle for hate; that putting Australia, its interests, its values and its people first doesn’t become an excuse for Australians to target Muslims, whether they are born or settle in this country.
Fanning fear the 150 Australians identified as being involved in conflicts in Syria and Iraq may create “home-grown terrorism” and a mass casualty event in Australia is a dangerous step in itself.
Mr Abbott says it is important individual communities not be caricatured on the basis of a militant few, but he needs to be delivering that message louder to ensure it is heard by those who would deem his “Team Australia” remarks as licence for the pursuit of all those of the Islamic faith.
The government’s introduction of its new terror powers is as critical a move as its delicate negotiations over its budget measures; nobody wants complacency on either account. Understanding and compromise must prevail.