Counter-Terrorism and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2015

Friday 25 September 2015 @ 1.30 p.m. | Crime

On the 16 September 2015, the Queensland Legislative Assembly introduced the Counter-Terrorism and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2015 into Parliament. The Bill sets out to extend the extraterritorial application of the Terrorism (Preventative Detention) Act 2005 (the Act) to the same area to which the combined effect of the Queensland Act and the Anti-Terrorism Act 2005 (Cth) apply the substantive criminal law of Queensland.

Background to the Bill

The current Queensland Terrorism (Preventative Detention) Act 2005 has a sunset clause that will see the act expire on 16 December 2015. However, as the explanatory memorandum to the current bill sets out, the Act remains a valuable tool for police to respond to an imminent or recent terrorist act. The nature of terrorism dictates that police intervention at an early stage is often time sensitive and this means that police officers may be required to act on less information than what is traditionally required for a police response. The Act gives police the powers to act in this way with regards to terrorist activities and thus the expiration of the act needs to be extended to retain this counter-terrorism framework for Queensland.

The Current Bill

On top of extending the expiry provision of the Act, the bill amends its extraterritorial application to ensure that preventative measures can be utilised where a vessel is intercepted and boarded outside of Queensland’s coastal waters. Currently, the Act has very limited extraterritorial application in the maritime environment skirting Queensland coastal borders. The current Crimes at Sea Act 2000 (Cth) and the Crimes at Sea Act 2001 (Qld) gives the state extraterritorial powers to the waters adjacent to the state to a distance of 200 nautical miles seaward.

However, these acts only apply to ‘substantive criminal law’ and ‘laws of criminal investigation, procedure and evidence.’ Terrorism prevention measures are not covered under this heading and therefore the state cannot act extraterritorially in matters of terrorism prevention that falls under the Act.

The current bill further extends the operation of the Act as well as the Public Safety Preservation Act 1986 to ensure that in addition to the maritime environment adjacent to the State, the various emergency powers under both Acts may be exercised in other Australian jurisdictions. For example, this will allow the declaration of a stated area around a vehicle as a declared area for a terrorist emergency to continue if the vehicle crosses over the state boundary.

The Bill was referred to committee on 16 September 2015 and is awaiting second reading debate.

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Counter-Terrorism and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2015 as reproduced on TimeBase LawOne

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