Page 1241 - Week 04 - Thursday, 5 May 2022
will assist in preventing or reducing the impact of the terrorist act. A person may be detained for up to 14 days without charge under a preventative detention order.
The ACT act provides contact rights for a person who is detained under a preventative detention order. A person detained under an order is permitted to contact certain persons, such as a family member or employer.
As a comparison to comparable legislation in some jurisdictions, some of these, including Victoria and the commonwealth, allow interim preventative detention orders to be made by senior police officers instead of by a court. Another difference is that, in the New South Wales and commonwealth schemes, the detained person is only able to inform a family member that they are safe.
For the Assembly’s information, I can confirm that, to date, no preventative detention orders have been applied for by ACT Policing or made under the act.
The act also allows for an investigation authorisation, which lasts for up to 28 days. This authorisation permits the police to exercise special powers that would assist in apprehending a terrorist suspect, investigating a terrorist act or reducing its impact. Special powers include searching a person, place or vehicle that is named, or related to someone or something named, in the authorisation. These orders must be made only by the Magistrates Court or the Supreme Court, to provide an additional layer or oversight and accountability.
When the act was first introduced in 2006, significant safeguards were included in the act. This distinguishes it from legislation in other jurisdictions, including the commonwealth, to ensure that the fundamental legal principles of justice and human rights could be preserved and protected. As I will explain in a moment, the amendments I am introducing today further expand these safeguards.
Since its introduction, the bill’s operation and effectiveness has been reviewed three times. The most recent review concluded that there should be an opportunity given to enhance the human rights protections and safeguards contained in the act, noting the extraordinary nature of the powers.
In response to that review, this bill proposes a number of additional amendments to improve human rights protections in the act, ensuring that the ACT legislation continues to adhere to human rights standards and, I believe, offers a best practice standard that is superior to the approach taken in any other jurisdiction in Australia. I reiterate that already the existing ACT act contains significant safeguards which distinguish it from both the commonwealth legislation and the legislation in other states and territories.
The additional amendments I am introducing in this bill today include amendments to improve protections for some vulnerable cohorts in the community who may be subject to the powers of the act. The amendments strike a balance in acknowledging that these individuals are likely to be vulnerable when detained, while ensuring the safety of the community.