The Australian parliament’s Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security is currently holding an inquiry into extremist movements and radicalism in Australia. It is only the second issues-based inquiry that this particular committee has conducted; the first was into the politically charged question of foreign interference. The hearings indicate the importance that parliament has placed on addressing concerns around violent extremism, an issue that is challenging many democracies around the world.
The threat of terrorism and the nature of violent extremism has shifted substantially in the two decades since the 11 September 2001 attacks, which led to the establishment of most of the present crop of programs, departments and paradigms for counterterrorism and countering violent extremism. While the threat from international and homegrown jihadist actors remains, increasing polarisation and disinformation has contributed to the growth of a diverse array of extremist movements across the ideological spectrum, particularly among the extreme right. The inquiry’s terms of reference will allow the committee to examine whether government’s current policy settings and legislation are adequate to address a diverse, complex and decentralised violent extremist landscape.