Wednesday, December 07, 2005

New Terror Laws

Since the discussion of the new terror laws over at Kev's joint is already careening offtopic (somehow Gerard's appointment to the Reserve Bank got raised, what that has to do with terrorism beats me), I'll state my postion over here.

First of all, the one thing I really like about these laws is the inclusion of a sunset provision. I can't think over any other laws in this country that were passed with a similar provision, and I'd have to say I'd love it to be more common.

To the other points:
* CONTROL orders to monitor terrorism suspects;
* PREVENTATIVE detention of suspects without charge for up to 14 days;
* 16 to 18-YEAR-OLDS suspected of terrorism can be subject to control and detention orders;
Detention without charge isn't a nice concept, but I'll accept that it could be a necessary evil is some cases. As for monitoring, go for it.

* SEVEN-YEAR jail terms for urging violence against the government or sections of the community;
This would seem to be aimed at those who preach terrorism, but don't necesarily get involved with planning attacks. I'll accept that we need to have some ability to act against them, but I also wonder what they will do to prevent them prosetolysing from a jail cell.

* TOUGHER police stop, search and seizure powers;
* POLICE and ASIO powers to examine passenger and business information;
* BROADER use of surveillance cameras at transport hubs;
The key to authorities catching terrorists before an attack is carried out is information. The police already have the power to stop and search you if they have a reasonable belief, and they can already watch what you do in a public place (like a transport hub).

* OMBUDSMAN to oversee police use of new powers;
* PARLIAMENT to receive reports on police powers;
* TEN-YEAR expiry date and five-year review of laws;
* LAW Reform Commission to review sedition laws in 2006.
Love the expiry date. Would like to see it on a lot more laws. As to what use the ombudsman, LRC and pollies will be in seeing that these laws aren't used unfairly, only time will tell.

Overall, I care far more about how these powers (and other powers granted to authorities) are actually used than about the individual legal points.If they start using detention without charge for druggies and car-thieves, then I'd say that's not why we granted you these powers. The claim is that the are needed to fight terrorism, and for that they have my support. Use them for anything else, and you'll have a hard time convincing me to support them.