Joint media release:

  • Senator James Paterson, Shadow Minister for Home Affairs and Shadow Minister for Cyber Security
  • The Hon Andrew Hastie MP, Shadow Minister for Defence

23 January 2024

The Coalition welcomes the Albanese Government’s decision today to apply cyber sanctions for the first time under Australian laws and impose further sanctions on individuals and affiliates of Hamas, Hizballah and Palestinian Islamic Jihad.

The cyber sanction mechanism brought in by the Coalition serves as an important tool in combating dangerous cyber activity, and cyber sanctions can serve as a powerful deterrent for future malicious cyber activity – particularly when done in conjunction with our allies.

Enabled by the sanctions regime passed by the previous Coalition government, today’s announcement will mean that transacting with the sanctioned individual can result in imprisonment while the individual in question is subject to an Australian travel ban.


Shadow Minister for Foreign Affairs, Senator Simon Birmingham, said the further sanctions on terrorist organisations announced today were a belated but welcome move in Australia’s fight against terrorism.


“It would be fanciful for the Albanese Labor Government to believe they can pat themselves on the back for these sanctions imposed which could have been done weeks ago,” said Senator Birmingham.


“Australia must not only be working in lockstep with our allies but should be leading the way to assist in the dismantling of Hamas through the mechanisms we have available.


“The Coalition also acknowledges that senior leader of Hamas, Yahya Sinwar, and co-founder of Hamas, Khaled Zahhar, were finally sanctioned one month after the Coalition’s calls for such action.


“It is unsurprising the Albanese Government remained quiet on these changes as they catch up with our allies who applied sanctions on these individuals months ago.”


Shadow Minister for Home Affairs and Cyber Security, Senator James Paterson, welcomed the use of Australia’s thematic cyber sanction regime, but questioned the decision to delay this action more than 12 months after the cyberattack on Medibank in 2022.


“I am glad to see the powers introduced under the Coalition’s thematic cyber sanctions framework finally being utilised, but it should not have taken the government this long. The Opposition called on the Albanese Government to take this action in November 2022 – why are we only seeing action being taken now?” Senator Paterson said.


“The Minister for Home Affairs and Cyber Security called her appointment to the cyber security portfolio a game changer, but unfortunately this appears to be another example of the Albanese Government being too slow and too weak on national security issues.


“The Albanese Government’s delays do not reflect the diligent and timely work of our law enforcement and security agencies which enabled the sanctioning of the individual in question, who I commend for their tireless work in assisting Medibank in responding to this attack and identifying the perpetrator.”


Shadow Minister for Defence, the Hon Andrew Hastie MP, said the Labor Government was dragging its feet when it comes to October 7.

“There is a lack of leadership and a lack of clarity at the heart of the Albanese Government.”

“The Prime Minister and Home Affairs Minister must explain why these sanctions were not imposed months ago in line with our allies and why Labor is yet to declare October 7 a terrorist attack.

“As Australia continues to lag behind our partners when it comes to critical decision-making, the Prime Minister has once again proved that he can’t be trusted on national security.”

The Coalition, again, offers full bipartisan support and calls on the Albanese Government to continue to utilise Australia’s sanctions regime to strengthen our nation’s position against terrorism.