ROBERT McCLELLAND MP
Attorney-General, Robert McClelland, today reintroduced legislation implementing key changes to Australia’s national security and counter-terrorism laws.
“The National Security Legislation Amendment Bill 2010 seeks to achieve an appropriate balance between the Government’s responsibility to protect Australia, its people and its interests and instilling confidence that our national security and counter-terrorism laws will be exercised in a just and accountable way,” Mr McClelland said.
The Bills seek to implement the recommendations of a number of independent and bipartisan reviews of Australia’s national security and counter-terrorism legislation dating back to 2006, including the:
- Inquiry by the Hon John Clarke QC into the Case of Dr Mohamed Haneef (November 2008);
- Review of Sedition Laws in Australia by the Australian Law Reform Commission (July 2006);
- Review of Security and Counter-Terrorism Legislation by the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security (PJCIS) (December 2006); and
- Inquiry into the proscription of ‘terrorist organisations’ under the Australian Criminal Code by the PJCIS (September 2007).
The Bills were previously introduced into the House of Representatives in March 2010 and subsequently passed, in the following month, in the Main Committee with bipartisan support.
The legislation has been the subject of an extensive public consultation process as well as an inquiry by the Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs, which reported on 17 June 2010. The Government has previously indicated that it would support a number of the Committee’s recommendations.
Key amendments contained in the Bill include:
- new powers for police to enter a premises without a warrant in emergency circumstances relating to a terrorism offence where there is material that may pose a risk to the health or safety of the public;
- extending the time available for police to re-enter a premises under a search warrant from one hour to 12 hours in emergency circumstances;
- establishing a maximum seven day limit on the detention period that may be disregarded when a person has been arrested for a terrorism offence;
- including a specific right of appeal for both the prosecution and the defendant against a bail decision relating to terrorism and serious national security offences;
- expanding the ‘urging violence’ offence so that it applies to individuals as well as groups who incite violence on the basis of race, religion, nationality, national or ethnic origin or political opinion;
- extending the expiration period of regulations proscribing a terrorist organisation from two to three years;
- amending the National Security Information (Criminal and Civil Proceedings) Act 2004 so that national security and counter-terrorism court proceedings may be expedited;
- establishing a Parliamentary Joint Committee on Law Enforcement to extend parliamentary oversight to both the Australian Federal Police and the Australian Crime Commission; and
- extending the role of the Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security to inquire into an intelligence or security matter relating to any Commonwealth Department or agency.
“These measures are designed to give the Australian community confidence that our law enforcement and security agencies have the tools they need to fight terrorism, while ensuring the laws and powers are balanced by appropriate safeguards and are accountable in their operation.”
A copy of the Attorney-General’s second reading speech reintroducing the Bill is attached.
Media Contact: Daniel Gleeson 0417 886 111