Leaders vow to toughen anti-terror laws

Roje Adaimy
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Leaders vow to toughen anti-terror laws

Stronger counter-terrorism laws appear inevitable as Australia's state and territory leaders move swiftly to keep potential attackers behind bars.

Premiers and chief ministers on Friday agreed to toughen bail and parole rules for people who have demonstrated support for or have links to terrorist activity.

There would be a presumption against their release, even if they hadn't been in jail for a terror-related offence.

It follows Monday's deadly siege in the Melbourne suburb of Brighton, where Yacqub Khayre killed a man, injured three police officers and took a woman hostage while on parole.

He had a long history of violence and had been charged, but later acquitted, for plotting a terror attack in 2009.

"This presumption is a vital element in keeping these people who are a threat to our safety, and our safety of our families, off the streets," Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull told reporters after the Council of Australian Governments meeting in Hobart.

"Violent criminals with terrorist links should not be walking the streets."

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian, who announced her own suite of new counter-terrorism measures earlier this week, backed the plan.

"It will have far-reaching and positive consequences in terms of minimising as much as possible letting people out who could cause harm to others," she said.

Mr Turnbull also announced that security-cleared corrections officers will be part of joint counter-terrorism teams across Australia.

That will ensure even closer co-operation and greater information sharing between agencies.

Leaders have also agreed to review counter-terrorism laws and practices at a special national security meeting in the coming months.

The prime minister says it's not an area of policy where you can "set and forget".

"We're going to be very proactive, constantly upgrading our defences."

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews welcomed the meeting, saying there was some unfinished work left after Friday's COAG gathering.

"I think the community will take a very dim view of each of us if, after that meeting, we do not have a detailed list of concrete, common-sense steps, doing what has to be done to keep every Australian safe," he said.

Mr Andrews believes Australia has reached a point where it needed to give serious consideration to giving law enforcement tools they don't now enjoy.

"It may mean taking the rights and freedoms of a small number of people (but) that is what will be needed in order to preserve and protect a great many more."

The premier has already floated the idea of building a new federal maximum security prison to hold Australia's most dangerous terrorists - a notion quickly rubbished by cabinet minister Christopher Pyne.

Leaders on Friday also discussed the work being done to protect Australians in crowded places and areas of mass gathering.

It followed briefings by the director-general of domestic intelligence agency ASIO, the acting commissioner of the Australian Federal Police, the prime minister's cyber security advisor and counter-terrorism co-ordinator.