While interviewing Government Services minister Bill Shorten today (Tuesday, October 4), the breakfast talk show host raised concerns over the federal government’s mission to return 16 women and 42 children who are kin of ISIS members.
Stefanovic fears the mission could pose as a security risk while costing taxpayers millions.
He asked Mr Shorten on TODAY: “Bill, it requires a certain conviction to move overseas with your bloke and take part in Islamic State wars. How do you reckon that sits with most Aussies?”
The minister responded: “I think people want to make sure that we are secure.”
He added: “They want to make sure our national security is intact. It is a national security matter. There is not a lot I can add at this point but I can just reassure viewers that national security is the number one assumption here.
“I mean, a lot of these kids are under six of course, and they didn’t have any say in what happened to them, but it is a national security matter … that is our number one consideration.”
However, Stefanovic refuted Mr Shorten's argument, claiming that residents that fled wouldn’t be ‘allowed to come back’ anywhere else in the world.
Liberal frontbencher Karen Andrews has labelled the mission ‘very concerning’ and previously rejected its proposal while serving as Home Affairs minister, as per news.com.au.
She said: “I was concerned about the risk of these people coming back to Australia, because they may not have been deradicalised and could well have been radicalised.
“I think it posed an unnecessary risk and enormous cost for these people to be closely supervised in the community.”
She also insisted that many women had travelled to the country ‘voluntarily’.
“They made their own decisions to be in Syria and they were complicit generally in the role that they were expected to play, which was to support ISIS and to support the foreign fighters who were there,” she said as per news.com.au.
In May this year, president of the ICRC Peter Maurer visited Syria, saying: "We welcome the efforts that have been made to repatriate women and children back to their home countries.
"No one should be made stateless. Political will and sustainable solutions must be found before more lives are lost."
Featured Image Credit: Nine Network. Agencja Fotograficzna Caro / Alamy Stock Photo
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