I move that this House:
(1) notes that the Senate Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade References Committee tabled its report into the human rights implications of recent violence in Iran on 1 February 2023;
(2) acknowledges that submissions to the inquiry overwhelmingly called for the Government to list the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps as a terrorist organisation;
(3) recognises that the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps poses a threat to Australia’s national security and the security of Australians at home and abroad, especially the Iranian-Australian community;
(4) further notes that Australia’s international partners have taken or are taking steps to categorise the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps as a terrorist organisation, including the United States of America and the United Kingdom; and
(5) calls on the Government to urgently take the necessary steps to formally categorise the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps as an organisation involved in supporting and facilitating terrorism.
In so doing, I call on the government to urgently take the necessary steps to formally categorise the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, the IRGC, as an organisation involved in supporting and facilitating terrorism. In my former role as the Minister for Home Affairs, I oversaw the listing of the entirety of Hamas, The Base and Hezbollah as terrorist organisations. It’s a powerful signal to those who threaten our way of life.
Like many others, I have been alarmed at how the threat from the IRGC has escalated over the past nine months, especially since the civil unrest following the death of Jina Amini in September last year. As this motion outlines, the Senate Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade References Committee inquiry into the human rights implications of recent violence in Iran heard many cases of human rights abuses by the IRGC as well as threats to the Australian-Iranian community. In fact, such is the degree of fear over repercussions for speaking out that the vast majority of the 893 submissions to the Senate committee are either name withheld or confidential. As one of the confidential submissions from a female Iranian-Australian says:
This submission is confidential as I have concerns regarding the wellbeing of my family members who are still living in Iran. The Islamic Republic of Iran has a well-known history of harassing, arresting and torturing family members of any Iranians who dare criticise the brutality of the regime.
There isn’t time in this debate to go through the litany of publicly reported human rights abuses, including violent crackdowns on protesters, political executions, menacing harassment and even the reported poisoning of women and girls who dared to attend schools.
I’ve spoken with many people who have an intimate knowledge of the conduct of the IRGC and the threats made to families here in Australia, including Peter Murphy, who runs Australian Supporters of Democracy in Iran, and the Melbourne for Iran group and the Iranian Women’s Association of Australia, whom I met on a visit to my colleague the member for Menzies’s electorate. I also spoke with Ms Dowlat Nowrouzi, a director of the National Council of Resistance of Iran, who had to flee the country when she was a teenager and now lives in Europe.
These groups all raised similar and deeply concerning viewpoints, which I believe this government must heed. As one of the submissions to the Senate inquiry said:
This is an opportunity for a country like Australia that respects human rights to support the oppressed and persecuted in Iran.
Importantly, this organisation is not just a remote threat, given the Australian Signals Directorate confirmed to the parliament last year that IRGC affiliated actors have targeted Australian organisations with ransomware attacks.
In its submission to the Senate inquiry, the Department of Home Affairs said it was aware of reports that pro-Iranian government informants are surveilling former Iranian residents protesting against the regime in Australia and threatening their relatives in Iran. Yet, literally at the last minute, the Attorney-General’s Department also made a submission saying:
The Attorney-General’s Department is of the view that, as an organ of a nation state, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps is not the kind of entity that is covered by the terrorist organisation provision in the Criminal Code.
The Executive Council of Australian Jewry co-CEO Peter Wertheim described the AGD’s legalise as ‘disappointing’ and the legal excuses as ‘flimsy’. He said:
While an entire organisation or its government cannot constitute a terrorist organisation under Australian law, there is no reason why a discrete agency of a government, with its own constitution and organisational structure, cannot be designated as such.
I’m deeply concerned that the Attorney-General appears to be putting important national security considerations effectively in the too-hard basket. But I do welcome the fact that foreign minister Penny Wong as recently as this morning announced the imposition of additional action through Magnitsky-style sanctions on Iranians individuals and entities, and these include those within the IRGC. The foreign minister claimed the government would employ every strategy at our disposal towards upholding human rights, and I encourage the government to make sure that they do and that that goes much further than simply sanctions against individuals.