Give us time to consider Preventative Detention: call for NSW Government

The Public Interest Advocacy Centre (PIAC) is calling on the Premier of NSW, Morris Iemma, to delay debate of the controversial NSW preventative detention Bill, which was tabled in State Parliament just over ten days ago.

The Terrorism (Police Powers) Amendment (Preventative Detention) Bill 2005 is due to be debated in Parliament this week and, unless the Premier delays the debate, is likely to be passed before the end of the week.

Robin Banks, Chief Executive Officer of PIAC, today called on the Premier to delay the Bill:

‘There is no national urgency for this Bill. The Victorian Government has given the community until February 2006 to consider the equivalent Victorian Bill, and the Federal Bill, which the NSW Bill is to work with, is not yet passed and may well be amended this week as a result of the Senate Committee Inquiry Report.’

Ms Banks noted that the rationale provided to date is that this is the last scheduled sitting week for the NSW Parliament for 2006.

‘In that case, NSW should allow its citizens to have time to fully consider the ramifications of the Bill and its Parliamentarians time to consider whether amendments can and should be made to ensure the Bill reflects the most appropriate and balanced approach to this radical change to fundamental rights.’

The Bill allows the Supreme Court to make orders for up to 14 days ‘preventative detention’, with the potential that a person will be subject to more than one order.

Ms Banks concluded:

‘Preventative detention is an enormous shift: it effectively permits the imprisonment of a person who has been neither charged nor convicted of a criminal offence. This concern is increased given the broad definition of ‘terrorist act’ on which the Bill relies.’

The Bill, when enacted, would remain law for 10 years.

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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