Tony Abbott Accused of ‘Hyping up’ Terrorism Threats to Distract from Federal Budget

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By Sounak Mukhopadhyay | August 28, 2014 10:05 AM EST

The Australian government has been accused of distracting the public from its controversial budget by using extremism-related worries.

Reuters/Mark Dadswell
Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott and his wife Margaret (obscured) place wattle blossoms on a wreath as they attend a national memorial service for the victims of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 at St Patrick's Cathedral in Melbourne August 7, 2014. Australia held a national day of mourning on Thursday for its citizens killed in the downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 in Ukraine last month, even as Russia said it was ratcheting up its response to Western sanctions imposed over the disaster.

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Labor senator Sue Lines said that Aussie Prime Minister Tony Abbott had seemed to focus more on terrorism than on the budget cuts. She accused the Abbott government of "hyping up" the terrorism fears. "It's invented the term Team Australia - you're either in the team or you're out of the team," she said, "And it's looking for opportunities in the media and elsewhere to try and scare the Australian public and to distract everyone from the budget."

Lines was asked if it was her intention to use the national security issues for her political interest, she said that it was Abbott who was doing so. "I'm not politicising security; the Abbott government is doing that by its constant scaremongering," she said. Opposition Leader Bill Shorten, on the other hand, said that his party considered national security "as a matter above politics."

The Labor, nevertheless, appeared to extend support for the proposed changes in the legislation. However, according to Lines, her party prefers taking a "more reasonable" approach regarding the issue. "I think Labor will be sensible in this regard, because what Labor doesn't do is we don't scaremonger," she said, "It's not the game we play, and we are about sensible policy and so obviously we do need to see the detail of that policy."

The West Australian senator gave reference to ASIO Director General David Irvine who said Australia suffered a "mild threat" when it came to Middle-Eastern extremism. She said that the Islamic State's growth as a militant organisation would require to be curbed. However, it should be done in a more "sensible" manner.

Abbott earlier faced strong resistance from major Muslim leaders in the country, including Islamic Council of Victoria Secretary Ghaith Krayem who termed his terrorism laws as "unjustified." The ICV boycotted a meeting with Abbott, who was accused of using "ill-informed and inflammatory language" while addressing the issue of domestic terrorism in the country.

Abbott earlier said on Wednesday, Aug. 27 that a "person of interest" had been arrested by counter-terrorism units.

Contact the writer: s.mukhopadhyay@IBTimes.com.au

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(Photo: Reuters/Mark Dadswell / )
Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott and his wife Margaret (obscured) place wattle blossoms on a wreath as they attend a national memorial service for the victims of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 at St Patrick's Cathedral in Melbourne August 7, 2014. Australia held a national day of mourning on Thursday for its citizens killed in the downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 in Ukraine last month, even as Russia said it was ratcheting up its response to Western sanctions imposed over the disaster.
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