Malcolm Turnbull declares terrorist group 'weak' in first national security statement as PM

In his first national security statement as Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull has declared Islamic State is weak and has "many more smartphones than guns, many more Twitter accounts than soldiers".

Key points:

  • Turnbull calls Islamic State weak, says Australia cannot be fooled by its "hype"
  • Calls IS beliefs "archaic" but internet use "modern"
  • Says no plans to send ground troops to Syria
  • Launches new terror alert system to provide public with more information

"We must not be fooled by its hype. Its ideology is archaic but its use of the internet is very modern," he said.

Mr Turnbull also stressed the need for measured responses to the attacks in Paris.

"This is not a time for gestures or machismo," he said.

"Calm, clinical, professional, effective — that's how we defeat this menace."

Mr Turnbull repeated his rejection of calls from within his party for Australian troops to fight on the ground in Syria.

"I have to report to the House that the consensus of the leaders I met at the G20, at APEC and at the East Asia Summit, is that there is no support currently for a large US-led Western army to attempt to conquer and hold ISIL-controlled areas," he said.

"There are currently no plans for a significant change in the level or the nature of Australia's military commitment in Iraq and Syria.


"No such change has been sought by our allies — if one were we would of course carefully consider it.

"Current advice to the Government is that the unilateral deployment of Australian combat troops on the ground in Iraq or Syria is neither feasible or practical."

Mr Turnbull also announced the Government would move to a new terrorism alert system.

"I can inform the House that the National Threat Assessment Centre, or NTAC, that sits within ASIO will this week transition to the new National Terrorism Threat Advisory System," he said.

"The new system will provide the public with more information on the nature of the threat we are facing.

"The adoption of a five-tiered threat system will also provide ASIO with greater flexibility in determining threat levels, reflecting the need to adapt to an evolving security environment."

After Mr Turnbull's speech, Opposition Leader Bill Shorten pledged to continue to work in a bipartisan fashion with the Government.

"We worked with Mr Abbott and we will do so again with Mr Turnbull," he told Parliament.

Like the Prime Minister, Mr Shorten called for a careful approach to dealing with terrorism.

"Words and ideas, hearts and minds are at the core of winning the struggle against terrorism," he said.

Mr Shorten is also against the idea of deploying combat troops to the region.

"We do not want to perpetuate another cycle as occurred following the invasion of 2003," he said.

"A large-scale troop movement, civil unrest and ongoing violence, escalation, withdrawal and eventual return.

"We can and we must provide Iraqi armed forces with the skills and trainings to repel and overcome Daesh, to focus on building their own capacity to train themselves and to protect themselves.

"We understand the very real risk of a protracted ground war, involving Australian personnel in danger with limited potential for it to contribute to the long-term solution we should be seeing.

"In the short term, an escalated presence of western troops will only feed the propaganda of Daesh."

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