Senate debates

Thursday, 12 August 2021


Counter-Terrorism Legislation Amendment (Sunsetting Review and Other Measures) Bill 2021; In Committee

12:29 pm

Photo of Nick McKimNick McKim (Tasmania, Australian Greens) Share this | Hansard source

I won't hold the Senate up unduly but I will make the point that once again the major parties in this place are in lock step on an erosion of rights and freedoms in our country. This legislation, like so many other pieces of legislation that have passed through this parliament and state and territory parliaments in the last couple of decades, erodes fundamental rights and freedoms.

It is worth pointing out, yet again, that Australia remains the only liberal democracy in the world that does not have some kind of charter of rights or bill of rights, whether constitutionally enshrined or legislatively enshrined, and it is the absence of such a charter of rights or bill of rights that makes it so much easier for the major parties to collude in walking us ever further down the dangerous path to a police state and a surveillance state.

In the last two decades, Commonwealth, state or territory parliaments have passed well over 200 pieces of legislation that erode fundamental rights and freedoms in the name of counterterrorism. It is worth pointing out that many of those pieces of legislation have been introduced in the name of counterterrorism, and then the powers, often very intrusive powers, contained in those pieces of legislation are used for intelligence gathering or data harvesting that has nothing to do with counterterrorism. I will give colleagues just one example, which is that the metadata retention laws are being used not to keep us safe from terrorists but for local governments to gather evidence to prosecute their ratepayers for having unregistered pets. That is where we find ourselves today, colleagues.

These powers, which we consistently grant through our parliaments because the major parties are in lock step on these issues, are dangerous. They have not been argued for comprehensively. Our terrorism threat level has remained unchanged over many years in this country, yet we continue to see pieces of legislation coming to this place and passed with the support of both the major parties. That, unfortunately, is what we're seeing today.


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