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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2006 Week 3 Hansard (29 March) . . Page.. 728..


MR STEFANIAK (continuing):

As indicated, he and his colleagues have fears about whether the ACT's legislation is sufficient. He has expressed fears that the police have concerns about provisions in the government's draft bill about the interoperability of the ACT Policing element of the AFP with the rest of the AFP and other jurisdictions in conducting counterterrorism operations. He stated at the inquiry on 31 January:

The proposed extended powers are necessary to increase the AFP's capacity to prevent terrorist attacks and to respond effectively to attacks in a way that is consistent with police in all jurisdictions in Australia. The AFP believes that this bill-

the government's draft bill-

does not enable us to do that.

The commissioner and his colleagues have expressed concerns in relation to the different tests and standard of proof being required by the AFP to establish a case for preventative detention orders before the ACT Supreme Court. The AFP feels that the standards required are much higher in the ACT than elsewhere in Australia. The commissioner was asked:

Would it be simpler if, say, the ACT simply adopted the New South Wales legislation to do that?

He replied:

It would be. It would be a way forward ... I think in this bill we do need to have consistency. If ever I have seen people with the intent and motivation and capability to do something catastrophic, it is the terrorists.

The commissioner went on to say that the ACT had already been the target of a person who wished to bomb the Israeli embassy and who is now serving time in Perth. He also gave the following evidence to the committee on 31 January:

The reasons for terrorist attacks are many and varied and there is nothing that will make us immune from them. This is a really important point about why we need consistency in the legislation across Australian jurisdictions, particularly for the ACT; that we don't by default cause ourselves to be the subject of a terrorist attack because the police don't have the right powers.

The commissioner was concerned that terrorists, like international criminals and like organised crime in Australia, do take note of jurisdictional impediments to their activities. If our bill were to be weaker than those of other jurisdictions, then that could well be a factor. I remind the Assembly that the commissioner is an expert in this area and we should give due regard to his fears.

Apart from that, there is the commonsense argument that in instances like this there should be consistency between legislation throughout the country. The ACT should not be the odd man out. If the legislation in the ACT is going to be defective, then we are being unnecessarily put at great risk. That is something that no responsible government


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