Page 4931 - Week 15 - Thursday, 15 December 2005

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Terrorism (Extraordinary Temporary Powers) Bill 2005—exposure draft

Proposed reference to Standing Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs

MR STANHOPE (Ginninderra—Chief Minister, Attorney-General, Minister for the Environment and Minister for Arts, Heritage and Indigenous Affairs): Mr Speaker, for the information of members, I present the following paper:

Terrorism (Extraordinary Temporary Powers) Bill 2005—Exposure draft.

I ask for leave to make a statement in relation to the paper.

Leave granted.

MR STANHOPE: Over the last six months, Australia has been engaged in a debate about how we should respond to the heightened risk of terrorism we all face—a risk we have all seen manifested, in the wake of September 11, in appalling crimes of violence in Madrid, London, Bali and daily on the streets of Iraq.

On 27 September 2005 the Council of Australian Governments agreed that the commonwealth, state and territory governments would enact legislation to strengthen existing counter-terrorism laws. Before I agreed with other first minister colleagues, I wanted to be convinced that the laws were necessary in the face of the risk confronting Australia. I received a briefing from the Commissioner of the Australian Federal Police and the directors-general of ASIO and ONA. Each told me the kinds of laws proposed by the Prime Minister were necessary.

COAG agreed that the commonwealth criminal code would be amended to provide for control orders and preventative detention for up to 48 hours to restrict the movement of those who posed a terrorist threat to the community. It was also agreed that states and territories would enact legislation to give effect to measures which, because of constitutional constraints, the commonwealth could not enact. These measures included preventative detention for up to 14 days and stop, question and search powers in places of mass gathering.

I agreed to the new laws on the basis of assurances from the Prime Minister that the proposed commonwealth laws would be based on clear evidence that they were needed in a democratic society and that the desired effect could not be achieved in less intrusive ways; that they would be effective against terrorism; that they would conform to the principle of proportionality; that they would comply with Australia’s obligations under international law—in particular, its obligations as a signatory to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights; that they would involve rigorous safeguards against abuse, including respecting the principles of non-discrimination; that they would be subject to judicial review; and that they would contain sunset clauses.

I asked for these assurances because I believe that Australia should not be debating what freedoms we are prepared to surrender in the current security environment but how rights can be secured and democracy protected from the threat of terrorism. There is no need to

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