Senate debates

Thursday, 12 August 2021


Counter-Terrorism Legislation Amendment (Sunsetting Review and Other Measures) Bill 2021; Second Reading

12:00 pm

Photo of David VanDavid Van (Victoria, Liberal Party) Share this | Hansard source

Fundamentally, the role of the Australian government is to ensure that all Australians are safe, secure and free from the threat of violence so that they are able to pursue their individual interests. It is the government's responsibility to ensure that our sovereign rights remain untainted by malicious actors and groups. Australia's current national terrorism threat level is listed as probable. This means that there is credible intelligence, assessed by our security agency, that indicates that individuals or groups have the intent and/or capability to conduct a terrorist attack in Australia. Unfortunately, the harsh reality is that we live in a world where there are those who wish to take what we have and destroy what we have built.

We have world-class intelligence, security and law enforcement agencies who work day in and day out to protect us from these threats. These agencies are equipped with some of the brightest and most dedicated minds in Australia, using some of the most advanced technologies to fight these threats. To ensure Australians are safe, we must ensure that these agencies have correct legislative frameworks to ensure they can do their job effectively and help us ensure that all Australians are safe.

This is why the Counter-Terrorism Legislation Amendment (Sunsetting Review and Other Measures) Bill 2021 is vital and must be passed without delay. To delay passing of this bill could threaten the lives of every Australian. This bill provides for the continuation of key counterterrorism powers that have helped since its enactment to protect the lives of Australians and our communities. In response to the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security and its 2021 review of declared area provisions, the bill will extend the sunsetting of declared area provisions in the Criminal Code Act 1995 to 7 September 2024 and amend the Intelligence Services Act 2001 to provide for the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security to review these provisions by 7 January 2024, ahead of their new sunsetting date. The declared areas offence forms an integral part of the Australian government's efforts to stop the flow of foreign fighters and also mitigates the risk that returning foreign fighters pose to Australians. The bill will also extend the 7 September 2021 sunsetting of AFP counterterrorism powers until 7 December 2022 and emergency stop, search and seizure powers in the Crimes Act 1914.

Control orders are an important tool in preventing a terrorist attack or foreign incursion and for managing the risk posed by persons who continue to present a risk to the community. It is important to note that control orders must be issued by a court. The Australian Federal Police can apply to the court to issue a control order against someone and must also have the consent of the Minister for Home Affairs.

Preventative detention orders are also an important tool in preventing an imminent terrorist act and preserving vital evidence in the aftermath of a terrorist act. Emergency stop, search and seizure powers ensure police are able to respond consistently and effectively to a terrorist incident or threat. This bill seeks to extend those powers for a further 15 months. These powers allow for police to request information, to conduct a search and to seize property where they suspect a person might have committed or be about to commit a terrorist act. I cannot stress enough that, if these powers were to sunset, particularly those with respect to control orders, all control orders would cease to be in effect, which would significantly inhibit agencies' ability to manage individuals who pose a risk of terrorism and threaten our way of life. If anyone in this house is okay with that happening, then they're essentially saying that they are okay with Australians' lives being placed at risk. I commend this bill.


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