‘Don’t take a backward step’: Andrew Hastie on the threat of terrorism

Canning MP and former SAS commando Andrew Hastie in Mandurah. Photo: Richard Polden.
Canning MP and former SAS commando Andrew Hastie in Mandurah. Photo: Richard Polden.

South London is a long way from Mandurah, where three terrorists killed at least seven people on the weekend.

Melbourne, where Islamic State claimed responsibility for another attack on Monday, is much closer to us.

So I’m not surprised I’m hearing frustration and concern from local people in my electorate of Canning. They want to know what their government is doing to defeat radical Islamist terrorism. And what they can do. 

I can assure you that the government, law enforcement and intelligence agencies are doing their job well.

Here’s what you can do.

1. Be clear-eyed about the threat

We are fighting against radical Islamists who are part of a networked global insurgency to undermine Western civilisation.

They threaten our values and our institutions. This is primarily a civilisational contest. They despise our political, religious and economic freedoms. They especially hate our freedoms of conscience, speech and association. They know these freedoms are the lifeblood of our democratic tradition.

Without them, Australian democracy will wither and die. That is why we must fight to preserve them. 

2. Understand their methods

Radical Islamists are cowardly bullies who prey on weakness. They use terror attacks to compel us to do their will and social media to generate fear.

They have willing accomplices along the way.

In the wake of an attack, the high priests of political correctness will demand your silence and submission. They will call you ‘intolerant’ and ‘bigoted’ for stating the obvious.

Both radical Islamism and the political correctness movement serve the same god of consensus. Don’t bow the knee. Ignore those who pretend to be your intellectual superior.

Remember that people of common sense built Australia into a thriving modern nation. 

Canning MP Andrew Hastie while serving in the Australian Defence Force. Photo: Supplied.

Canning MP Andrew Hastie while serving in the Australian Defence Force. Photo: Supplied.

3. Remain vigilant

The Australian government’s primary task is to secure the Australian people. We have dedicated Australians working around the clock to keep us safe in our border protection, law enforcement and intelligence agencies.

The Coalition government has passed tough laws that enables our security people to disrupt and prosecute radical Islamists in our midst.

Our Australian Defence Force are targeting treasonous Australians who have gone to fight with Islamic State in Iraq and Syria.

We need to remain vigilant as our enemy is constantly evolving and adapting. We can expect more attacks on Western democracies.

4. Secure your neighbour, secure yourself

One of the great weaknesses of modern Australia is our individualism and social fragmentation. That makes us especially vulnerable to radical Islamist terrorism.

We are more easily scared and made to feel alone when dislocated from our fellow Australians. When was the last time you had a drink or meal with a neighbour? 

Our freedoms only make sense in connection with our family, friends and community. Get to know the people around you, in your street, in your neighbourhood. Rebuild the little platoons that make Australia unique and a place where people want to live. Make sure you’ve got your neighbour’s back, and they’ve got yours.

Real security comes from community.

5. Carry the fire

We have a great inheritance in our Australian democracy. Look around the rest of the world – Australia didn’t just happen. It has evolved over time and has been nurtured and protected by our parents and grandparents and those before them.

They carried the fire for us and we must do the same for the next generation. 

Nature abhors a vacuum: we must not allow space for radical Islamist ideology to take root in Australian society. Tell the Australian story at the kitchen table. Teach Australian values at schools – tales of sacrifice, mateship and service. Understand and cherish our political institutions.

And don’t take a backward step.

Andrew Hastie is the Chair of the Parliamentary Joint Committee for Intelligence and Security and the federal member of parliament for Canning, which includes Mandurah and the Peel region.