Wednesday, 26 November 2014
Counter-Terrorism Legislation Amendment Bill (No. 1) 2014; In Committee
Ahead of Senator Wright responding, I think it is timely for me to indicate the Labor position in relation to these amendments. We oppose them for much the same reasons as Senator Brandis has outlined. They are, essentially, redundant. We are, of course, steadfastly committed to Australia's international obligations under the convention against torture. In the previous two national security bills we supported amendments which substantially addressed torture that have been referred to in part by Senator Leyonhjelm. In the first bill we supported amendments to clarify that immunity conferred on participants in special intelligence operations would never encompass immunity for acts of torture. In the second bill we supported amendments which broadened the protections against the use of foreign evidence obtained by torture or by duress.
This amendment, however, would have no genuine effect. As the Attorney has already indicated, torture is already prohibited by Australian law. It is already the law that ASIS may not engage in acts of torture. We will not be supporting the addition into the act of what is, essentially, a redundant provision. This is simply a matter of good policy regarding drafting and avoiding confusion in statutes. I understand that the government has also made this position clear in the explanatory memorandum of the bill.