Anti-terrorism: The laws Australia enacted
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Anti-terrorism: The laws Australia enacted


Australia’s response to September 11
was like that of many other countries.   We passed extraordinary laws
that challenged long held assumptions about how the criminal law
should operate.   Those assumptions are still
being challenged today, and they cast very big questions
about Australia’s anti-terror laws.   One remarkable feature of
our anti-terror laws is just how many were passed
by our Federal Parliament.   We didn’t start with any laws
on the National Statute Book but quickly passed many laws
in the wake of September 11.   All up, we’ve passed sixty-one
new anti-terrorist statutes since September 11.  
Thirteen of those were passed during the life of the Rudd
and Gillard governments, but in fact, most of those,
forty-eight in fact, were passed during the life of
the Howard government.   That meant from 2001-2007,
Australia enacted forty-eight anti-terrorist statutes
or an average of one new anti-terror law every 6.7 weeks.  
It was a remarkable bout of law making that exceeds anything like it
in other countries.   In fact, one international scholar,
Kent Roach, has said that Australia suffered from hyper-legislation
where we passed laws that outstripped the ability of civil society
simply to keep up.   Australia’s anti-terror laws
are remarkable not just in the number that were enacted
but also in their scope.   In fact when you look at
the detail of those laws, it’s clear just how directly t
hey challenged long held assumptions.   Anti-terror law itself depends upon
the definition of what it means to commit an act of terrorism.  
That’s something that is defined in Australia’s Criminal Code
and it says that if you undertake a violent act of disrupt
an electronic system for political, ideological or religious reasons
in an attempt to coerce or intimidate a government or a section
of the population, then you are committing
a terrorist act.   It obviously covers such things as
hijacking planes or bombing people, but it goes further than that
in also dealing with acts of liberation that even though
they involve violence and political motives,
are the sorts of things that we wouldn’t necessarily
regard as terrorism.   There’s no doubt under Australia’s laws
that Nelson Mandela and his fight against apartheid
was an act of terrorism.   It’s also clear that
the people that have fought against the Syrian government
are engaged in terrorism and that those that fought Indonesia
in East Timor were engaged in terrorism.   It shows how broad our definition is,
and even though it’s well drafted compared to many others
around the world, it does encapsulate acts of violence
and acts of liberation that might be more commonly seen
as those of a freedom fighter rather than a terrorist.  
In addition to defining terrorism, Australian law also deals with
a range of new offences.   You can for example be jailed
for financing terrorism or even for possessing a thing
in some way connected with terrorism.   The police also get new powers
of warrant-less searches where they can enter people’s houses
without getting a warrant from a Judge or someone else.  
We’ve got control orders whereby people can be held
potentially under house arrest for up to a year
or prevented from using the internet or a range of other restrictions
on their liberty.   We’ve got preventative detention orders
which mean that people can be detained without charge or trial
for up to fourteen days and even other provisions
which deal with things such as news censorship and also speech
in that it’s possible to be jailed not simply for what you do,
but for what you may say.   The most extraordinary
anti-terror laws of all in Australia is those powers given to ASIO,
that’s our Secret Intelligence Organisation. ASIO can have any person,
a citizen even not a suspect, detained for potentially up to a week
and forced to answer questions.   If someone is detained
and they refuse to answer those questions, they can be jailed
for up to five years and it’s something that can apply
to family members and others who may not be involved
in terrorism directly, but might simply have information
about potential terrorist activity that ASIO can require them to reveal. 

8 Comments

  • Polly Grey

    There's some very  sensitive little vegemites manning the gates of youtube at the moment in relation to Abbott's proposed new laws.
    Yesterday I made 2 comments here (Professor George Williams – Australia and anti-terror laws) but only one can be read, even by myself when I log on.
    The presumption of innocence is as good a place to start with these new laws as any. It is outrageous that anyone will be required to explain why they travelled to forbidden place x when they return to Australia. This goes against the basic legal principle of  someone being innocent until proven guilty beyond  reasonable doubt.
    The proposed law banning travel to some parts of the world is also a fantastic way to deter people from seeing for themselves what those purporting to act in the interests of Australia, or their friends, are doing. Could it be more obvious?
    The War on Terror is a fraud and is like an arsonist offering to put out the fore he started on the condition that you surrender all your rights to him.
    Tony Abbott acts as if there have never been war zones or terrorism (leaving aside who's really behind them) until about now, and that he's responding to some novel threat.
    Like all other extraterritorial laws that have been passed over the years, this one will be invalid.
    S51 (xxx) of our Constitution gives the Federal Govt. power over external affairs-  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Constitution_of_Australia .
    However, this does not include of the govt. to lay charges on people for activities conducted overseas. The Annotated Constitution of the Commonwealth of Australia(Quick and Garran) – https://archive.org/details/annotatedconstit00quicuoft -explains in s214, pp 631/32 " External Affairs", that "external affairs" only includes  forbidding a State to establish its own emassy and things of a similar nature.
    Limits to the interpretation of Federal powers are further clarified in s33, p346 "And all Laws":
    "{For Federal laws] to be valid and binding they must be mapped out and delimited in express terms, or by necessary implication, in the Constitution itself. What is not so granted to the Parliament of the Commoinwealth is denied to it."

  • Canvas Airbrushing

    "The best slaves are the ones who volunteer their slavery"
    Ignorance, fear, laziness and stupidity are the tools that facilitate this method.
    If you believe you need government, laws, wars or protection then you fall into one or all of the above categories.

  • white raven flying

    australia have become a terror dictatorship against its own population, there is a bigger threat against its own people from the ruling elite then from a so called terrorist,so the true terrorist are actually the ruling elite because they have ultimate power over every citizen,it is a kind of germany in the 1940 or soviet in the 1930.

  • Nick Koutsoukis

    This guy has no idea …
    These laws are the only things preventing us from being attacked … This guys ideologies, although they expressed with good intentions and humanitarian values they are not compatible with protecting this country from a. Terrorist attack .

  • Robbbyg

    There's no such thing as Terrorists, Only Government Tyranny. Wake up and smell the propaganda and the push by the elite to bring us all under one world order. a New World order.
    All recent Attacks were stages, why wont people look at these Staged events with an open mind rather than rely on the Lies the Media puppets put out,

    Our Government is in the pocket of the UN who plan these staged Terror attacks carried out only to frighten the public into thinking there is a problem so that they are happy for our Tyrannical government to step in under the guise of protecting us when in fact our freedoms and rights are slowly being eroded with each new False Flag.

    I wish some Politicians would step back from the bullshit and be honest about what is really going on in thew world, too many Evil People.
    Orlando, Paris, Brussels, Lindt Cafe etc etc etc etc ALL STAGED EVENTS
    Do your own research an easy place to begin is www,crisiscast,com to give you an idea on how they carry it out these Bullshit Lame Faked attacks many of which are drills and reported under direction to our media as REAL.

    Free fact i just found out in 20 seconds in between typing this FACT; The recent Terror attack at the night club was staged, why ? because they closed down in 2013 and even when they were running they were only licensed to seat 24 patrons…oh but the TV said there were 300 people…Yeah right.

    OH the Truck attack was real you say?? Because there is a VIDEO showing people getting hit..

    NO THERE ISNT there is only the usual grainy low quality muffled weak short clip that SHOWS NOTHING except how gullible you aLL are to believe the Treachorous Media.

    WAKE UP AND GET SOME BALLS AND SAY NO TO GOVERNMENT TYRANNY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Xavier Smith

    Nelson Mandela WAS a terrorist, and that's not an overly-broad interpretation. He had bombs planted in public places, and his wife had a young man burned alive.

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