Prime Minister Tony Abbott announces the new security laws with Foreign minister Julie Bishop and Attorney-General Senator George Brandis. Photo: Andrew Meares
Australia's spy and counter-terror agencies will receive a $600 million funding boost to fight the threat of home-grown terrorism, which Prime Minister Tony Abbott says "has not changed" and is still "as high as it has ever been".
Mr Abbott unveiled a suite of counter-terrorism measures on Tuesday which as Fairfax Media revealed earlier includes stronger powers for authorities to detain and question jihadists who have fought alongside terrorists overseas in countries like Syria and Iraq.
This includes lowering the threshold for police wanting to arrest suspected terrorists without a warrant and giving AFP greater powers to seek control orders on returning foreign fighters.
It will also be an offence to travel to designated countries where terrorists are actively operating unless there is a "legitimate purpose".
But controversial plans to store the phone and internet records of everyday Australians will be included in a later "third tranche" of legislation. The cost of storing and protecting the data is still subject to discussions between the government and telecommunications companies.
Mr Abbott said while the terror threat "hasn't changed" since the setting of "medium" following the September 11 attacks, there is "heightened concern" about the threat of a local terror attack.
He said "everything that government can reasonably do is being done to ensure our community is safe" and vowed to leave no stone unturned in ensuring public safety.
Foreign Minister Julie Bishop said the measures were needed because "hardened home-grown terrorists" who had been radicalised overseas may use their skills to carry out an attack in Australia.
The government is also proposing giving the foreign minister a new power to suspend the passports of people ASIO suspects of planning to fight alongside terrorists or returning home from combat.
Ms Bishop said while the concept of Australians fighting abroad was not new, it is posing a greater threat than ever before.
"Preventing Australian citizens from becoming foreign fighters is now one of our highest national security priorities," she said.
"To put the threat in context, prior to the NATO led experience in Afghanistan our intelligence and security agencies were aware of 30 people, Australian citizens, in Afghanistan fighting against the interest of the West, 25 of them came back to Australia.
"Five times that number are of interest to our security and intelligence agencies, so this is a far greater challenge for us in sheer numbers."
Attorney-General George Brandis says the act of jihadists posting images online, purporting to show themselves engaging in terrorist acts is currently not illegal but would be made an offence under the government's proposals.
There will also be a review of Australia's efforts to counter terrorism which the Prime Minister says will draw on the success of Operation Sovereign Borders in bringing together co-ordinating agencies.