Prime Minister Tony Abbott has elaborated on his "Team Australia" remarks, saying on a radio interview that "you don't migrate to this country unless you want to join our team".
Mr Abbott will meet Muslim communities in Sydney on Monday and in Melbourne this week in a bid to quell disquiet about the government's counter-terrorism plans.
Prime Minister Tony Abbott will visit Muslim communities in Sydney and Melbourne to discuss changes to national security laws. Photo: Andrew Meares
In an interview with Sydney radio station 2GB, Mr Abbott harked back to a term he used earlier this month when announcing enhanced national security laws, saying "everyone has got to be on team Australia".
He went on to say "everyone has got to put this country, its interests, its values and its people first, and you don't migrate to this country unless you want to join our team".
Mr Abbott was asked what should be done if someone in Australia was discovered to be flying a flag for a terrorist organisation over their home or business.
"I don't know what the legal position is but frankly the only flag that should be flying is the Australian national flag," Mr Abbott said.
Mr Abbott said the government had to be vigilant in addressing the "serious problem of radicalised people going to the Middle East to fight with terrorist groups" and then trying to return to Australia.
"What we need to do is to encourage the moderate mainstream to speak out," he said.
"Overwhelmingly, our country is comprised of good decent people who want to put Australia and its people first, and it's important that individual communities can't be caricatured on the basis of a militant few."
Speaking to multicultural media before his meeting with Islamic leaders, Mr Abbott said the new terror powers were designed to protect the whole community.
''It's not about protecting one group of Australians from another group of Australians,'' he said.
AAP has reported that journalists from its organisation, Fairfax Media and the ABC were prevented from attending the event and were told that it was intended for ''multicultural media''.
During the briefing before the meeting, Mr Abbott said that it was in the ''absolute interests'' of every community to ''expose and to counter any potential for home-grown terrorism''.
‘‘Because if there is one thing that could damage the rich and strong social fabric of our country, it would be a mass casualty event,’’ he told the forum.
Mr Abbott said he was concerned that the 150 Australians involved in conflicts in Syria and Iraq may bring their radicalised view of Islam back to Australia.
''The last thing we should be is complacent about this,'' Mr Abbott said. ''We've been successful up until now in identifying and preventing potential terrorism.
''I pray to God that we continue to be successful in this very important (area).''
The Prime Minister’s renewed pitch to moderate Muslims comes after anger at the proposed new terrorism laws, which were linked to the abandonment of changes to race-hate laws.
The Lebanese Muslim Association has described the proposed national security powers as "deplorable" and vowed to fight them because they are "widely perceived to target Muslims".
The Australian National Imans Council has joined the criticism, saying it believes the proposed changes will "severely impinge" on the rights and freedoms of all Australians but "especially those of Muslim faith".
Mr Abbott's focus on national security this week comes as government MPs continue negotiations over blocked budget measures, with the Prime Minister, Foreign Affairs Minister Julie Bishop and acting Assistant Treasurer Mathias Cormann signalling there could be adjustments to get key budget measures passed.
On Monday, the Prime Minister told how the government planned to reach a compromise over unpopular budget measures with the Senate crossbench when it had to negotiate with the Palmer United Party, led by the unpredictable Clive Palmer.
Mr Abbott said the government had to deal with ''the parliament you've got'' but it would not sell out the ''fundamentals'' of the budget it handed down in May.
''We're prepared to talk to the crossbench senators. What we're not prepared to do, though, is sell out the fundamentals and the fundamentals are that we have absolutely got to get this budget crisis back under control,'' Mr Abbott said.
"Even Clive Palmer was using the term 'crisis' last week.
''So what I say to all of the crossbench senators is: if you don't like what the government is putting up, give us your alternative in terms of how we save money.
''And there were some alternatives that came up from one of the crossbench members of the Federal Parliament, and frankly, they didn't stack up for five minutes.''