Attorney-General George Brandis says he received useful feedback at a meeting with Muslim leaders, who have criticised his tardiness and remain sceptical about proposed changes to anti-terrorism laws.
Mr Brandis was an hour late to his meeting with key Muslim leaders in Sydney’s west on Friday. A spokesman said he had been held up in traffic.
The leaders said that after the attorney-general arrived, they had only 30 minutes to review draft amendments to the federal government’s anti-terrorism legislation.
Muslim leader Hany Amer said there was not enough time to look over the proposals, which aim to stop young Australians being radicalised and taking part in wars in the Middle East.
As they stand, the laws did not have enough safeguards for the innocent, he said.
The leaders say they left the meeting in Parramatta with the same concerns they had at the start about the Muslim community being unfairly targeted.
But a spokesman for Mr Brandis said the meeting was “friendly and constructive”.
He said the attorney-general delayed his flight to be able to stay longer than scheduled and the proposals were only a few pages.
Further consultations have been agreed, the spokesman says.
“The attorney-general received useful feedback which will assist in the development of legislation,” he told AAP on Saturday.
Deputy Prime Minister Warren Truss said the government was sincere in its wish to work with community leaders.
“We think it’s important for Muslim leaders to demonstrate leadership and to do what they can also to ensure that all Australians – Muslim and non-Muslims – living in Australia can do so in safety and without risk of there being outbreaks of violence,” Mr Truss told reporters in Canberra on Saturday.