Australia announced new travel rules for those seeking to go to and from Iraq and Syria, and other terrorist hotspots, as part of a package of counterterrorism initiatives that are expected to cost nearly $600 million to implement.
One new rule that’s being proposed would label it a criminal offense to travel to certain countries “without a valid reason,” The Associated Press reported.
The new laws are aimed at helping intelligence and law enforcement agencies deal with Australians who commit acts of terror overseas and then return home. Currently, the country doesn’t have much in the way of laws that can easily prosecute these people, AP reported.
“We don’t want to subvert Australian justice,” said Prime Minister Tony Abbott, AP reported. “The last thing any of us would choose to do is to defend our system by damaging our system. But what we are determined to do is to ensure that where people have been involved in terrorist activities, it is much more readily possible to secure convictions than it currently is, given the difficulty of getting evidence of exactly what might be happening overseas.”
Attorney General George Brandis said the new laws — which carry an initial price tag of $590 million — will require travelers to prove they were visiting any countries on the government’s red-flag list for humanitarian or family-related reasons.