The Australian Government's Anti-Terrorism Bill



The Australian Government's draft Anti-Terrorism Bill 2005 represents one of the most significant attacks on the basic civil rights of all Australians and will extend Government power to an unprecedented level. There are new powers for the imposition of control orders that will force individuals to wear tracking devices, limit their movements, stop them from using the telephone or internet and stop them going to work. This legislation will allow for even non-suspects to be detained without charge for up to 14 days and includes notices to produce, increased stop and search powers and drastically extended validity of ASIO search warrants from 28 days to 90 days.

New sedition offences mean an individual can be jailed for up to seven years if they "promote feelings of ill-will or hostility between different groups" or urge "disaffection against the Constitution or the Government."
Concerns have also been raised over an apparent new definition for the use of lethal force. An AFP officer can kill someone if the officer believes that it is necessary to protect the life or safety of others, this includes a person attempting to escape custody by fleeing. While there are already similar provisions in the Crimes Act, the use of such force in relation to preventative detention orders means that this force could be used on non-suspects. The cornerstones of our civil and legal system are in serious danger from the laws contained in this Bill. The presumption of innocence and the right not to be detained without charge are cornerstones of our democracy representing hundreds of years of established practice - we must not allow them to be simply taken from us.

Disturbingly, the Government is attempting to use its majority in the Senate to stop public scrutiny of this Bill by severely limiting committee inquiry. The underhanded manner in which the Government has acted means that one of the most significant Bills that Australia has seen may receive only a one day inquiry.
Australian democracy is built on an open and accountable system of responsible government. By limiting public input and consultation of such an important Bill the Government is showing nothing but contempt for Australian democracy, parliamentary process and the Australian people.