Sep 19, 2013

Crikey Clarifier: Australia’s counter-terrorism legal landscape

With the UK examining its counter-terrorism laws, freelance jouranlist Farz Edraki asks: are Australia's counter-terrorism laws too restrictive and in need of reform?


Following the detention of Guardian journalist Glenn Greenwald’s partner at Heathrow Airport, the British government this week passed an “emergency motion” to debate the country’s controversial anti-terrorism laws. With Australia’s counter-terrorism laws allowing for even more surveillance than the UK allows, should Australia follow suit?

Australia was swept up in the worldwide haste to legislate on counter-terrorism in the wake of September 11. Under John Howard, Parliament amended Australia’s federal criminal laws — via the Commonwealth Criminal Code — to make incitement to terrorism an offence. The Attorney-General also has the power to ban terrorist organisations. There are 18 groups currently blacklisted by the state.

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One thought on “Crikey Clarifier: Australia’s counter-terrorism legal landscape

  1. bluepoppy

    There’s always the argument of balance between civil liberties and security with seemingly lack of any ideological position as to where the line should be drawn. The Haneef case was an example of where the new laws stepped over the line and can be open to abuse.

    At the moment the line is drawn far too closely to a big brother model which has led to State monitoring ordinary citizens and capturing data illegally. Governments argue that citizens should trust these decisions as they are done in the public interest. However, if nations seek to protect themselves from terrorism because terrorism by nature inhibits liberties, then the strategy would seem to be counterproductive.

    On the other hand, some aspects of national security is for show ie. to give people the feeling the government is looking after them.

    This was highlighted by the Allan Kessing revelations about corruption at Customs and the government’s failure to release that information or to act on it. Andrew Wilkie’s ‘Axis of Deceit’ was also very telling about where national security, foreign and economic policy cross over and it is sometimes hard to tell the difference. If you have to tell a lie to go to war there is something wrong.

    The public trust has too many times been betrayed.

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