Terrorism Legislation (Miscellaneous Amendments) Bill 2015 (Tas)
On 15 September 2015, the Terrorism Legislation (Miscellaneous Amendments) Bill 2015 (No. 43 of 2015) was introduced into the Tasmanian Legislative Assembly by the Minister for Police and Emergency Management, the Hon Marinus Hidding.
The Bill seeks to amend the Terrorism (Preventative Detention) Act 2005 and the Police Powers (Public Safety) Act 2005.
Background to the Bill
The amendments of these two acts have arisen as a result of the Council of Australian Governments’ (COAG) agreed response to recommendations from the Review of Australia’s counter-terrorism legislation that was commissioned by COAG in 2012.
It also addresses issues raised in the 2nd Annual Report of the Independent National Security Legislation Monitor and the emergence of national security issues being caused by Australians travelling to Syria and Iraq to engage in hostile activity.
Terms of Reference for the COAG Review
In 2005 COAG considered the evolving security environment in the context of the terrorist attacks in London in July 2005 and agreed there was a clear case for strengthening Australia’s counter-terrorism laws. COAG leaders also agreed that any strengthened counter-terrorism laws must be necessary, effective against terrorism and contain appropriate safeguards. The Australian Government and states and territories then enacted legislation to better deter and prevent potential acts of terrorism and prosecute them when they occurred. COAG agreed that they would review the new laws after a period of time.
According to the Attorney-General's website, the terms of reference for the COAG Review were:
"Counter-terrorism laws in Australia are not confined to the Commonwealth. All states and territories have enacted laws to deal with terrorism. The review committee examined these various laws and made recommendations on whether the laws:
- are necessary and proportionate
- are effective against terrorism—that is, they provide law enforcement, intelligence and security agencies with adequate tools to prevent, detect and respond to acts of terrorism
- are being exercised in a way that is evidence-based, intelligence-led and proportionate
- contain appropriate safeguards against abuse."
Acts amended by the Bill
The proposed amendments seek (in part) to amend the Terrorism (Preventative Detention) Act 2005, to:
- extend the current sunset clause, which takes effect on 31 December 2015, to 31 December 2025;
- update the definition of “terrorist act” so that it remains consistent with the Commonwealth Criminal Code Act 1995 (the Code), noting that the definition of “terrorist act” in the Code can only be changed with the agreement of the states and corresponding amendments to states’ referral of powers legislation;
- change the test for applying for a preventive detention order to “suspect on reasonable grounds” that a person will engage in a terrorist act or preparatory conduct;
- change the test for applying a preventative detention order to preserve evidence by clarifying that in seeking such an order, the preventative detention of a person must be “reasonably necessary” to preserve evidence of, or relating to, a terrorist act; and
- provide for an application for a preventative detention and a prohibited contact order, to be made verbally, by fax, email or other form of electronic communication in urgent circumstances.
The proposed amendments to the Police Powers (Public Safety) Act 2005 seek to:
- extend the current sunset clause to 31 December 2025;
- update the definition of “terrorist act” (s 3) so that it is consistent with the Code;
- repeal s 4; and
- substitute s 34 which extends the operation of the legislation for a further ten years until 31 December 2025.
Extension of the Sunset Clause
The sunset period for both Acts is being extended in recognition of the fact that the terrorist threat remains ongoing and real. Extending the sunset clauses will ensure that law enforcement agencies continue to have the necessary powers to prevent and disrupt terrorist activity.
Where to now?
Currently the Bill has passed both Houses (without amendments) and is now awaiting Assent. Parliament is scheduled to sit again on 13 October 2015.
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Terrorism Legislation (Miscellaneous Amendments) Bill 2015 (Tas) – Supporting material: Bill, 2nd Reading Speech, Explanatory Memorandum as reproduced in TimeBase LawOne service