Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott Wednesday said there's "no point importing troublemakers" and plans to introduce legislation that will prevent "hate preachers" from entering the country. Abbott told Macquarie Radio that the new laws also will make it illegal to promote terrorism, Australian Associated Press reported.
“By all means let Australians who want to say stupid things to say stupid things, but there’s no point importing troublemakers from overseas to stir people up,” Abbott said. “I am sorry we haven’t red-carded these hate preachers before but it will happen and it will happen quickly.”
Abbott said the laws would target groups like Hizb ut-Tahrir, which has scheduled a lecture for Friday in Sydney to decry the U.S.-led airstrikes against Islamic State militants. The lecture will accuse the United States of attacking the "noble Syrian revolution" by "rounding up its puppets and allies … using intervention in Iraq as a convenient excuse," a flyer on the lecture promises.
Abbott said he shared his interviewer's "frustration and anger" that current law cannot prohibit the lecture, the Sydney Morning Herald reported. "At the moment we can only ban organizations that engage in terrorism," Abbott said.
The new law would include a character test for visa applications.
"Over the years, there have been all sorts of people come in to this country to cause trouble, to make a nuisance of themselves, to stir up Australian against Australian and as far as I am concerned, this will stop," Abbott told reporters in Sydney, the Associated Press reported. "I say to people who want to come to this country from overseas to peddle their extremist ideology, to divide Australian from Australian, to give implicit, if not explicit support for terrorism, don't bother applying."
Hizb ut-Tahrir spokesman Uthman Badar responded on Facebook Abbott got his facts wrong. Badar said the speakers Friday all will be local.
"There are no top drawer or international speakers," he said. "Evidently, the prime minister is not interested in facts when seeking to silence political dissent or whip up Islamophobic hysteria."