Saturday, October 29, 2005

What legislation are we talking about?

The Federal Government is presently seeking, with the Anti-Terrorism Bill (No. 2) 2005, to extend the legislation that it has in fact been passing since 2002.

Since 2002,

"a national 'terrorist' legal infrastructure has emerged in Australia. At the base of this infrastructure is the broad statutory definition of a 'terrorist act'; a term which, at its margins, embraces some industrial action and political protest. Built upon this definition is a range of 'terrorism' offences that travel far beyond acts like bombings and hijackings that are popularly considered terrorism."

"A key element in the 'terrorist' legal infrastructure is the granting of unprecedented powers to the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO)."

"In a robust democracy, the activities of ASIO and particularly the exercise of such novel and sweeping powers should be subject to close monitoring and public examination. Yet increasingly, information necessary for such scrutiny has and is being excised from the public domain in the name of national
security."
-- Joo-Cheong Tham and Jude McCulloch

The emergence of this infrastructure has not been uncontroversial. The Government's first attempt to introduce extensive and radical changes to (among other things) the powers of the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO) and the Australian Federal Police (AFP) was met by strong opposition in Parliament, in the media, and from private citizens who made submissions to Parliamentary committees. The proposed changes had to be substantially modified in order to secure their passage through the Senate.

As of the 2004 federal election, however, the Government has gained a much stronger grip on the Senate. It appears to face little parliamentary opposition to its so-called “security” or “anti-terrorism” agenda, which, even by conservative measures, can only be described as extreme.


Elsewhere on this page you can find links to the legislation that has already been passed, and to the new Bills that the Government is going to introduce into Parliament. It makes for very interesting reading, though at times this is a cumbersome task. For those who prefer, we have provided some summary of the legislation, as well as links to other summaries and 'expert analysis'.

1 Comments:

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