PM labels Muslim leaders' boycott of meeting as “foolish”
Prime Minister Tony Abbott dismissed as "foolish" the actions of Muslim leaders who decided to boycott a meeting in Melbourne with him to discuss the government's tough new terror laws.
A small number of groups including the Islamic Council of Victoria decided to decline the invitation but Mr Abbott was buoyed by the discussions none the less saying at least one leader supported his call for all Australians to be "a part of Team Australia".
"Obviously the most important thing is to talk and that's why I was disappointed that a small number of Islamic leaders, community leaders, I thought rather foolishly boycotted that meeting," he told a radio station in Melbourne.
"You can hardly complain that people aren't talking to you, then when they offer you a talk say sorry we're not coming."
Mr Abbott also reiterated the Government's commitment to counter-terrorism measures adding it was not beyond the realms of possibility that beheadings, like that of American journalist James Foley, could happen here.
"It was sickening, it was hideous, it was inhuman," Mr Abbott said.
"But these people kill without compunction - they kill without compunction - and they exalt in their cruelty, posting all these things up on the internet because their aim is to strike fear into the hearts of their opponents.
"As I'm concerned what they are succeeding in doing is strengthening and deepening the resolve of the Australian Government to do everything we reasonably can to protect our citizens."
The prime minister said he was concerned but not alarmed that there were more than 150 Australians working with ISIL and its support networks.
This is of deep concern," he said. "That's why it's very important we redouble our vigilance and boost our efforts to ensure that our country is safe."
"Yes it's a tiny, tiny, tiny minuscule percentage of our population, but nevertheless it doesn't take very many people, as the September 11th assault on the United States showed."