Page 4586 - Week 11 - Tuesday, 18 October 2011

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really question whether these are necessary laws or whether we can in fact offer the ACT the protections our citizens deserve in the context of also protecting the freedoms that we hold so dearly.

MR CORBELL (Molonglo—Attorney-General, Minister for the Environment and Sustainable Development, Minister for Territory and Municipal Services and Minister for Police and Emergency Services) (5.33): The government opposes Mr Rattenbury’s amendments. The amendments proposed by Mr Rattenbury would remove the ability of police to preventatively detain a person for up to 14 days to prevent an imminent terrorist act or to preserve evidence following a terrorist act. These proposals are based on the Greens’ assertion that preventative detention is unjustified because the existing ACT and commonwealth criminal laws provide police with adequate powers to respond to a terrorist act. Mr Rattenbury’s explanatory statement raises three points to justify this assertion. Let me address these in turn.

Mr Rattenbury’s first and second points contend that existing criminal offences and concepts such as conspiracy and the commonwealth criminal offences for planning a terrorist act provide sufficient power to preventatively intervene in the planning and preparation of a terrorist act. However, in some circumstances our existing criminal powers may not be appropriate to prevent or investigate a terrorist act. This is most apparent when you consider the primary distinctions between the general criminal investigative powers and the preventative detention powers in the act.

The key distinctions between the general criminal investigative powers and preventative detention are, firstly, the length and, secondly, the fact that preventative detention orders are preventative in nature. Where an offence is being investigated under the general criminal investigative powers and police are seeking to arrest and detain a person, section 212 of the Crimes Act will apply. Section 212 details the ACT’s arrest without warrant powers. These powers allow a police officer to arrest a person without a warrant in circumstances where the police officer suspects on reasonable grounds that the person has or is committing an offence or for a range of other situations, including to prevent the concealment, loss or destruction of evidence.

Following an arrest, part IC of the commonwealth Crimes Act applies. This part specifies the length of the investigation period where a person is arrested for an offence. The investigation period commences when a person is arrested and ends at a time not beyond two hours where the person is under 18 or is of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander descent. For anyone else, the period does not extend beyond four hours. Following this period, an application can be made to a magistrate to extend the investigation period. This total extension period must not be for more than 20 hours, which results in a maximum investigation period of 24 hours.

Alternatively, under the ACT’s preventative detention powers, the Supreme Court may make a preventative detention order to detain a person for up to 14 days. The reality is that the existing investigation period of 24 hours may simply be inadequate to prevent, disrupt or investigate a complex terrorist plot—reaffirming again that the purpose of these powers is as a last resort.

Thirdly, Mr Rattenbury states that a person may be detained for up to seven days under the commonwealth terrorism investigation powers. However, this assertion

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