It would be stupid to denounce critics of the government’s proposed counter-terrorism laws as terrorist sympathisers, says Malcolm Turnbull.
In a wide-ranging speech calling for a rational debate on balancing national security measures and civil liberties, the communications minister defended the government’s draft laws revoking citizenship for dual nationals involved in terrorism.
He promoted the government’s decision not to proceed with a proposal to give the immigration minister the discretion to revoke citizenship.
But getting the balance on counter-terrorism legislation would always be controversial – and that was a good thing because public debate would mean getting it right, the minister said.
People with the same goal of defeating terrorism can have different views on the best way forward, he said.
“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,” Mr Turnbull told the Sydney Institute on Tuesday night.
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 communications minister also said Australia was unlikely to succeed if the aim was to eradicate terrorism as a concept, as opposed to defeating Daesh, or Islamic State.
“Just as it is important not to underestimate or be complacent about the national security threat from Daesh, it is equally important not to overestimate that threat.”