Senate debates

Thursday, 27 October 2022


Counter-Terrorism Legislation Amendment (AFP Powers and Other Matters) Bill 2022; Third Reading

11:16 am

Photo of Anne RustonAnne Ruston (SA, Liberal Party, Shadow Minister for Health and Aged Care) Share this | Hansard source

by leave—I incorporate my speech on the second reading debate in relation to the bill that was just passed, the Counter-Terrorism Legislation Amendment (AFP Powers and Other Matters) Bill, due to my inability to table the speech because we were under a time order.

The speech read as follo ws—

I rise to speak in support of this Bill.

Protecting the Australian community from the evolving threat of terrorism is the absolute first job of any Government.

This bill will provide for the continuation of key counterterrorism powers to keep Australians safe. Control orders and preventative detention orders are important tools used to prevent terrorist acts and manage the risk posed by persons who continue to present a risk to the community.

The former Government passed a similar bill through the Parliament last year to extend them while the Committee continued to inquire into these powers.

The emergency stop, search and seizure powers that are contained in this bill ensure that police are able to respond consistently and effectively to a terrorist incident or threat.

The Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security conducted a statutory review of control orders, preventative detention orders and the stop, search and seizure powers under the former Coalition Government.

The committee unanimously supported the extension of the powers subject to certain amendments, including the introduction of additional safeguards.

While other aspects of their report are being considered by the government, this Bill is necessary to ensure the important powers contained do not Lapse.

The Bill will also ensure that key powers available to the Australian Federal Police will continue to be available.

It is critical that these powers do not sunset ahead of this work being finalised.

Accordingly, the Bill will defer sunsetting for another 12 months, to ensure that law enforcement continues to have a range of capabilities to respond to the ongoing threat of a terrorist attack in Australia while the government continues to consult and respond to the bipartisan recommendations.

All powers will continue to be subject to robust safeguards and oversight, including by providing for the PJCIS.

I will now set out what the bill the Coalition will support does to ensure Australians are protected from the threat of terrorism.

Control orders

Control orders under Division 104 of the Criminal Code are an important tool in preventing a terrorist act and managing the risk posed by persons who continue to present a risk to the community.

The provisions allow the Federal Court or the Federal Circuit Court to impose an order which places tailored obligations, prohibitions and restrictions on an individual.

The conditions must be reasonably necessary and reasonably appropriate and adapted to protect the public from a terrorist act.

Preventative detention orders

Preventative detention orders under Division 105 of the Criminal Code are another important tool in preventing an imminent terrorist act.

A preventative detention order allows a person to be detained without charge, and can only be used where the AFP reasonably suspects an attack could occur within 14 days, or in the aftermath of a terrorist attack to preserve vital evidence.

Crimes Act powers

The emergency stop, search and seizure powers in the Crimes Act ensure that police are able to respond consistently and effectively to a terrorist incident or threat.

The powers allow police to request a person's name, address and other details; they allow police to conduct a search for a terrorism related item and to seize such an item; and they allow police to enter premises without a warrant to prevent a serious and imminent threat to a person's life, health or safety.

These AFP powers have been used sparingly since they were enacted.

As the Attorney-general said in the other place, only 23 control orders have been made since September 2014, when the national terrorism threat level was raised.

No preventative detention orders have been made, and no incidents have required the use of the emergency stop, search and seizure powers.

Although as it was when the Coalition passed a similar bill last year, and as the Attorney-General informed the house within the debate—these powers have not been used to date, and it continues to demonstrate that the AFP have been appropriately prudent in exercising these exceptional powers.

Concluding Remarks

This bill provides for the continuation of important counterterrorism powers that ensure the safety and security of all Australians.

They ensure that Australia's law enforcement agencies continue to be able to manage the evolving national security and threat environment, while protecting individual rights through strong and effective oversight and safeguards.

The Coalition will also support National security legislation that continues to equip our security agencies to protect Australia and Australians.


No comments