Freedom in Australia is threatened by new terror laws

The Government’s new anti-terrorism laws will not prevent terrorism but will threaten freedoms that are fundamental to Australia. They will divide our society, severely curtail our freedoms and imprison innocent people, community groups said today.

The Government’s plan includes detention without trial for between two weeks and three months, house arrest and extensive new police powers to stop and search anyone in designated public places. Freedom to criticise government politics or to discuss treatment by the police risks being criminalized. These laws risk capturing in their net law-abiding people.

Their use will not require evidence of guilt. They will target those who ‘might’ present a risk. As the recent case of the deportation of an American peace activist, Scott Parkin, shows, this could be anyone who is critical of the Government’s policies.

These laws are not necessary. The police and intelligence agencies already have extensive powers to monitor, question, arrest and prosecute those who seek to commit terrorist acts. These new laws are excessive and the Government is yet to demonstrate why they are required.

History has taught us that terrorism has never been effectively addressed through coercive police powers. We need political and cultural solutions to address the root causes.

We call on the State, Territory and Commonwealth Governments to reconsider their decision to remove our freedoms and to seek a measured, evidence-based, and proportionate approach to the real issue of terrorism.

MEDIA CONTACT: Dominic O’Grady, Media and Communications Officer,
Public Interest Advocacy Centre. Ph: 02 8898 6532 or 0400 110 169

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