Cth Introduces Counter-Terrorism Sunsetting Review Bill 2021

Thursday 26 August 2021 @ 2.56 p.m. | Crime | Legal Research

The Counter-Terrorism Legislation Amendment (Sunsetting Review and Other Measures) Bill 2021 (Cth) (“the Bill”) was introduced to the Senate on 4 August 2021. The Bill was introduced by Assistant Minister for Industry Development, Senator Jonathon Duniam ("the Minister").

The Bill proposes amendments to the following legislation:

  • Criminal Code Act 1995 (Cth)
  • Intelligence Services Act 2001(Cth)
  • Crimes Act 1914 (Cth)
  • Independent National Security Legislation Monitor Act 2010 (Cth).

The Bill has since passed both houses of Parliament and is awaiting assent.

Australia’s Current Threat Level

According to the Bill’s Explanatory Memorandum, the current terrorism threat environment continues to be:

“highly relevant in considering the reasonableness, necessity and proportionality of the measures contained in this Bill. Australia’s National Terrorism Threat Level is ‘probable’. This means there is credible intelligence assessed by Australia’s security agencies indicating that individuals and groups have the intent and capability to conduct a terrorist act in Australia.”

Object of the Bill and Proposed Amendments

As outlined in the Bill’s Explanatory Memorandum (“the EM”), the main objectives of the Bill are:

“… to extend for a further three years the declared areas provisions in sections 119.2 and 119.3 of the Criminal Code Act 1995 (Criminal Code) that are scheduled to sunset on 7 September 2021. This Bill will also make amendments to the Intelligence Services Act 2001 (Intelligence Services Act) to provide that the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security (PJCIS) may review the operation, effectiveness and proportionality of the declared areas provisions prior to their new sunset date”.

In proposing the extension of these provisions, the Bill seeks to implement the recommendations made in a previous review of these provisions that was undertaken by the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security ("the Committee").

The Minister noted in his second reading speech that if passed, the Bill would provide for the continuation of key counter-terrorism powers was important in order to ensure the safety of Australia.

The EM also outlines other key amendments proposed under the Bill:

"[If passed, t]he Bill will also extend for a further 15 months the following Australian Federal Police (AFP) powers that are also scheduled to sunset on 7 September 2021:

  • the control order regime in Division 104 of the Criminal Code
  • the preventative detention order regime in Division 105 of the Criminal Code, and
  • the stop, search and seizure powers in Division 3A of Part IAA of the Crimes Act 1914 (Crimes Act)."

Comments and Reaction to the Bill

The Minister commented in his secondary speech:

“It is critical that these powers do not sunset ahead of the PJCIS’ review. Accordingly, the Bill will defer sunsetting to 7 December 2022, to ensure that law enforcement continues to have a range of capabilities to respond to the ongoing threat of a terrorist attack in Australia”.

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Counter-Terrorism Legislation Amendment (Sunsetting Review and Other Measures) Bill 2021 (Cth) and additional explanatory materials as available from TimeBase's LawOne Service

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