Australia will impose counter-terrorism laws
CANBERRA: Australia is to impose “draconian” counter-terrorism laws after state and territory leaders agreed on Tuesday to wide-ranging security proposals made by Prime Minister John Howard in the wake of the London bombings.
Howard said the new laws, which include detaining suspects for up to 48 hours without charge and using electronic tracking devices to keep tabs on terror suspects, were needed to combat “unusual circumstances”.
“We do live in very dangerous and different and threatening circumstances, and a strong and comprehensive response is needed. I think all of these powers are needed,” Howard told a news conference after the leaders’ terrorism summit in Canberra. “I cannot guarantee that Australia will not be the subject of a terror attack ... but as a result of the decisions taken today we are in a stronger and better position to give peace of mind to the Australian community,” he said.
Howard also unveiled plans to spend A$20 million ($15 million) on an Australian Federal Police chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear research facility.
Keysar Trad, president of the Islamic Friendship Association of Australia, condemned the new laws, which came from a review of Australia’s counter-terror legislation following the July 7 London bus and subway bombings.
“These laws will be unfair and could lead to the creation of a fascist state,” he said.
Australia, a staunch US ally with troops in Iraq and Afghanistan, has steadily beefed up security and anti-terrorism laws since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the United States.
Australia has never suffered a major peacetime attack on home soil, but 88 Australians were among 202 people killed in the 2002 Bali bombings and 10 Indonesians were killed when the Australian embassy in Jakarta was hit by a suicide bomb on Sept. 9, 2004. Under the planned changes, existing sedition laws are to be replaced by a new law making it a crime to incite violence against the community or against Australian soldiers serving overseas or to support Australia’s enemies. “In many sense the laws that we have agreed to today are draconian laws, but they are necessary laws to protect Australians,” Queensland state premier Peter Beattie told a news conference. reuters