Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2006 Week 5 Hansard (9 May) . . Page.. 1334..
MR STEFANIAK (continuing):
and our authority to collect evidence to charge individuals and the methods employed by terrorist groups to plan and execute their attacks. In stark terms, we are trying to narrow the space between when we can intervene to prevent an attack occurring and the opportunity for terrorists to launch such an attack. These are powers that we will use judiciously and cautiously to protect the community.
As we all know—and even the Chief Minister has said, even though he has had his disagreements with him—Mick Keelty is a very well-respected international expert on anti-terrorism. He is a person who has the respect and high regard of other police services and anti-terrorism organisations, not just in Australia but throughout the world. When he says something, we should take note and listen. Sadly, the biggest problem with this bill is that the government was not listening and seems to have been absolutely blinkered by its own Human Rights Act and a misinterpreted approach to that.
The ACT is an obvious target for terrorist activity because it is the nerve centre of the commonwealth government and home to around 90 embassies. The problem with the government's bill is that it is deeply flawed. In fact, we believe that this government bill is so ideologically blinkered and out of kilter with the rest of Australia that it cannot adequately protect the people of the ACT. If anything happens—and God forbid; we hope it does not—it is going to have to be amended.
The bill is flawed because it differs from the legislation in all other jurisdictions of Australia, as well as from the commonwealth law, in a number of crucial and significant aspects. It has been slightly amended—I will pay some credit to the government there—with the words "reasonable and necessary"—one of the tests—being changed to "reasonably necessary", which is in kilter with the rest of the country, but in relation to several other tests it has not been amended. The tests police have to satisfy in the ACT before our Supreme Court in order to have a person detained on the basis of an alleged or probable terrorist act will be much harder. This will perhaps make it quite unlikely that our police will be able to have suspected terrorists placed in detention in the ACT.
A significant problem with the Stanhope legislation is that police have to show that detaining a person is the least restrictive way of preventing a terrorist attack, instead of substantially assisting in the prevention of a terrorist attack. That is a very big difference. Having been involved in quite a large number of cases where various tests have to be applied in the criminal law, that will be a very difficult and perhaps almost impossible test for police to satisfy. It is completely out of kilter with the rest of the country. As Mick Keelty, the Australian Federal Police commissioner, said, this means that police will have to use two tests—one for the rest of the country and one for the ACT. The test for the ACT is a lot harder. All you need do is go to the scrutiny of bills report—and of course our scrutiny reports are based on rights; they are based on the Human Rights Act—which states that the test is certainly more defendant-orientated and much harder for police than the tests applied at commonwealth and interstate level.
A different test under another section of the bill is that detaining a person under an order is the only effective way of preserving evidence. This is also a very difficult, if not impossible, test for police to satisfy because, again, it is different from the rest of the country. This is something we will probably deal with in the detail stage of the government's bill. But why do we need to have tests that are different from those of the rest of the country? Harking back to the other bill before you, I refer to something that was said in the committee and which I think the Chief Minister pooh-poohed—that the