Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull has differed from the prime minister’s language over the threat of Islamic State extremists, calling for a balanced debate on national security and civil liberty.
While defending the government’s draft laws revoking citizenship for dual nationals involved in terrorism, Mr Turnbull said those with the same goal of defeating terrorism could have different views on the best way forward.
Denouncing those who question the effectiveness of new national security measures as ‘friends of terrorists’ was as stupid as describing those who advocate them as proto-fascists, Mr Turnbull told a Sydney gathering on Tuesday night.
He said it was important not to underestimate or be complacent about the national security threat from Islamic State – as it was not to overestimate that threat.
“Now, just as it’s important not to underestimate or be complacent about the national security threat from Daesh, it is equally important not to overestimate that threat,” he said.
“Daesh is not Hitler’s Germany, Tojo’s Japan or Stalin’s Russia.
Mr Turnbull’s comments are in contrast to those of Prime Minister Tony Abbott, who has criticised Labor for “rolling out the red carpet” to terrorists by expressing concerns about the citizenship-revoking legislation.
“The Islamic terrorist seeks to provoke the state to overreact because it creates a more receptive environment for the extremists’ recruiting efforts,” he said, adding the Government had the right balance in its national security laws.
“It’s important to remember too that people in societies with an equal determination to defeat terrorism, a current threat, can have different views on what is the right balance and indeed what the right measures are.
“Denouncing those who question the effectiveness of new national security measures as friends of terrorists is as stupid as describing those who advocate them as proto-fascists.”