Former diplomat to co-ordinate counter terrorism

Greg Moriarty will become the first co-ordinator of national counter terrorism. AAP/Karlis Salna

A former ambassador to Indonesia and Iran, Greg Moriarty, will become co-ordinator of national counter terrorism, leading a new office in the Prime Minister’s Department.

The government says that as well as his expertise in the Middle East and South-East Asian regions, Moriarty brings to the role experience co-ordinating inter-agency and international collaboration.

His appointment follows a review of counter-terrorism which was released earlier this year. It urged strengthening the counter-terrorism strategy and boosting co-operation with at-risk communities.

Two terrorist plans have been disrupted in Melbourne in the past month and since September, when the threat level was raised to high, there have been a total of six disrupted attacks and two actual attacks.

Some 100 Australians are involved with terrorist organisations in Syria and Iraq, and another about 160 sympathisers are directly supporting them in Australia, according to the government.

Tony Abbott will announce within days the government’s plan to strip people involved in terrorism of their citizenship.

He said on Sunday that there had been in the citizenship act since 1948 a provision that people lost their citizenship if they took up arms against the Commonwealth of Australia.

“People who are serving with terrorist groups overseas, people who are fighting with terrorist groups overseas or who are engaged in terrorist activities here in Australia are effectively taking up arms against us.

"It’s very hard to imagine that we should allow to remain in the bosom of our country people who are trying to destroy us,” he said.

“If you have so set yourself apart from our country by engaging in terrorism against our people, against our values, well plainly you no longer deserve to be in the bosom of the Australian family.”

Opposition Leader Bill Shorten said Labor needed to see the detail of what was being proposed and had asked for a briefing.