Do this morning’s raids on terror suspects change the debate over the Government’s proposed terror laws?

Much of last week’s cynicism has vanished, but the simple answer is no.
The sedition parts are still utterly unacceptable – hence Labor’s plan
to demand the Government dump plans to upgrade sedition offences due to
their potential to limit free speech.

The Australian covers the view from the Liberal Party neatly today:

Coalition MPs have already won agreement on a review of
sedition laws next year, arguing the provisions are based on
19th-century law.

This has prompted Labor MPs to question why the laws should be passed
before Christmas when they will be reviewed and potentially subjected
to further amendment early next year.

Attorney-General Philip Ruddock is already facing a rebellion in his
own ranks over sedition provisions, with high-profile Liberal MP
Malcolm Turnbull describing the crime of sedition as ‘archaic’.

Liberal senator George Brandis has called for it to be repealed, not upgraded.

However, Liberal MPs may support new provisions to cover inflammatory
sermons that encourage terrorist acts or glorify the actions of suicide

Last night, outspoken Liberal MP Petro Georgiou said the current sedition provisions were sparking considerable concern.

‘The sedition section is creating a great deal of concern because it is
reinvigorating significant components of what was dead-letter law,’ he
told The Australian.

Then there’s the exceptional comments young Queensland Liberal MHR Steve Ciobo made in the House last night on a bill of rights that have left his colleagues shocked – with delight and horror.

He described the terror laws as “very necessary.” Then he went on to
say: “The concern, of course, is that in seeking to provide the
necessary tools to our front line to adequately protect Australians and
provide the security all Australians rightly demand, we must somehow
not unduly erode the very freedoms we are fighting to maintain… The
balance that must be achieved is between the desire for security and
the individual incursions required to deliver it, on the one hand, and
the need to maintain our gaze on individual freedoms and processes
which continue to uphold the individual as the supreme focus in a
liberal democracy, on the other.”

Ciobo cited the American Declaration of Independence, and continued:

In Australia, sharing as we do a common heritage with the
United States, we enjoy constitutional and common law rights and
responsibilities passed down through the generations from Britain…
Developed on a blend of the US and UK systems of government, the
Australian Constitution truly embodies the best forms of government and
accountability that serve all Australians.

This parliament is guided by section 51 of the Constitution in the
development and implementation of laws. Laws that fall outside of the
Commonwealth’s jurisdictional heads of power are unconstitutional and
without effect, as determined by the High Court of Australia. This is
necessary as a check balance on the powers of the executive.

Unlike the positive list of responsibilities for the Commonwealth
government outlined in section 51 of the Constitution, however,
individual rights in Australia are far less clear. The Constitution
itself does specify certain individual rights as part of its broader
focus on providing limits to executive powers. In the main, however,
individual rights are largely outlined through the development of
common law precedent and through the mixed bag of statute law providing
for rights. This unstructured approach to defining individual rights
has served Australia reasonably well also. It does, however,
particularly lend itself to individual rights being a product of
judicial interpretation.

This characteristic of the development of rights at law within
Australia I find troubling. In addition, in light of the new threat
paradigm facing Australia and her legislators, I see the potential for
increased conflict and uncertainty arising from the legitimate need to
curb certain freedoms to uphold the right to security, being tested in
courts, at the mercy of judicial interpretation and application of
implied constitutional rights and common law precedent. This is a
situation that cannot, and should not, continue.

Smart lad. Brave lad.