House debates

Thursday, 3 December 2015

Constituency Statements

Anti-Terrorism Legislation

10:22 am

Photo of Jason WoodJason Wood (La Trobe, Liberal Party) Share this | | Hansard source

I rise to speak about my concerns in relation to the lack of questioning time under preventative detention legislation and the interviewing of suspects held in detention for terrorist-related events. Back on Monday, 28 November 2015 I rose to support the Anti-Terrorism Bill (No. 2). I quote from my speech on the day:

I am greatly concerned there is no provision to interview a terrorist suspect whilst in preventative detention. To be interviewed, the suspect must be released and re-arrested under part 1C of the Crimes Act, where investigators will only have 48 hours of interview time.

This has now been increased to seven days:

After the London bombings, British authorities determined that 14 days to interview terrorist suspects was insufficient and increased the interview and detention period to 28 days.

My views on preventative detention have not changed. The great concern I have is that you can have a person in preventative detention who may have knowledge to prevent a terrorist attack and police are not able to question that person. It is a basic tool for policing to ask questions to elicit information. It has never been used at a Commonwealth level. That tells me there is something greatly wrong with the legislation; that is why it is not being used. The states have 14 days preventative detention. That has been used in Victoria and New South Wales and, again, they cannot question. I note that Mike Baird, the Premier of New South Wales, has requested 28 days.

The big concern I have with multiple terrorist attacks or planned attacks, numerous offenders, search warrants being executed, interpreters being used and computers being analysed is that the time frame to interview a person under part 1C of the Crimes Act, which totals eight days, is insufficient. I am proposing that we look at the UK model. They have preventative arrests without warrant which must be from ongoing investigation into a suspected terrorist. It was 28 days; it has now been reduced to 14 days for constitutional reasons.

In order for the 28 days preventative arrests without warrant, we need our law enforcement agencies to be prepared to be vocal on this. I have spoken to numerous law enforcement officers in the past. At the low levels they are very supportive of change; at the upper levels they do not dare ask the government for this. That needs to change, and change very quickly. I have no doubt that the new Victorian Chief Commissioner, Graham Ashton, who led the charge on the royal commission into sexual abuse in the Catholic Church, and his new assistant, Commissioner Ross Guenther, who I know personally, will be prepared to put their hands up when it comes to making this change, as will the Commissioner of the NSW Police Force, Andrew Scipione, and the Commissioner of the AFP, Andrew Colvin. They are all great law enforcement members. We need to make sure that we are no longer protecting the rights of the terror suspects when we should be protecting the rights of the people they wish to harm.