Last week the Victorian Government introduced the Terrorism (Community Protection) Amendment Bill 2015 into the Legislative Assembly. The Bill extends the operation of preventative detention orders, which were due to sunset on 9 March 2016, and introduces a number of other changes to the Terrorism (Community Protection) Act 2003 (“the Act”) recommended by a 2014 review of counterterrorism legislation. Introducing the Bill, Attorney-General Martin Pakula said:
“This bill supports the safety of Victorians by ensuring the powers in the act remain relevant and necessary. It complements the government's broader approach to social cohesion and community resilience that focuses on the safety of Victorians, while also emphasising the need to work closely with communities to understand and address violent extremism.”
Preventative detention orders, issued by the Supreme Court on the application of police, allow for the detention of a person for up to 14 days. The new Bill would amend the date after which these orders cease to have any effect to 31 December 2021. In his second reading speech, the Attorney-General noted that the powers “have not been widely used” in Victoria, with the first such order being used “in April [this year] in relation to the alleged attack during ANZAC day celebrations”, but said that:
“Despite their infrequent application, recent events and the evolving threat environment demonstrate the need to retain these powers. All other jurisdictions have similar powers. The majority in the Victorian review also concluded the powers should be retained.”
The Bill would also require another statutory review of the legislation to be completed before 31 December 2020.
Additionally, the Bill implements several of the recommendations from the 2014 review in regards to preventative detention orders. These include allowing police to issue a preventative detention order under “any name or names by which the person is known to Victoria Police” if “the name of the person is uncertain”. The Attorney-General told ABC News:
“Sometimes the actual birth name is not what is know to police, so they'll be able to go by using the name that police are aware of. The[re] have been examples in the past w[h]ere police have been unable to make effective applications for Preventative Detention Orders because they've been unaware of the suspect's real name or they have known the suspect by a different name because that's what the suspect goes by.
The fact with regard to Preventative Detention Orders is that they're not needed very often but when they are needed, they are really needed.”
The Bill also makes a number of changes to the operation of preventative detention orders, including creating an offence where a person contravenes a duty to treat a person subject to an order with humanity and dignity or subjects them to degrading treatment. The Bill also ensures liability for the welfare of the person rests with the authority responsible for their custody at that time.
The Bill also requires police to apply to the Supreme Court for a revocation or variation of the order without delay if the circumstances under which the preventative detention order was granted no longer exist, or have materially altered.
The Bill will also implement a recommendation from the review to allow covert search warrant provisions to cover “remote entry” or “remote access” to data on a target computer. In his second reading speech, Mr Pakula noted:
“Technological advancements since the act first commenced allow a person's computer to be accessed by 'remote entry' without police being physically present. It is safer for police, less intrusive, and may negate the need for a physical search if nothing of concern is revealed.”
The Bill also clarifies the definition of the word “vehicle” throughout the Act.
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Terrorism (Community Protection) Amendment Bill 2015, Explanatory Memorandum and Second Reading Speech - available from TimeBase's LawOne service
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