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Tuesday, 10 December 2002
Page: 7602


Senator NETTLE (6:23 PM) —I rise to speak to the amendment. As Senator Faulkner outlined, this is an extremely controversial piece of legislation. Even if the amendments proposed by the Australian Labor Party and the government proceed, we are left with legislation that allows for the detention of nonsuspects—that is, it allows for the detention of people who are not even suspected of being involved in any terrorist activity. This goes far beyond the scope of legislation put forward in the United Kingdom and in the United States in response to September 11. When in the course of the committee stage we speak about the amendments put forward by the Labor Party I am sure that we will have the opportunity to look at this further. These proposals do not change the nature of this bill to make it just about a questioning regime; they continue to allow for the detention of nonsuspects. We will have the opportunity to get on to that in the course of the debate on the proposed amendments in the committee stage.

The legislation before us fundamentally undermines the basic tenet of our legal system that nobody should be detained unless they have come before a court and have been found to be reasonably suspected or guilty of committing a crime. We now have an amendment that seeks to put a sunset clause in place. The Australian Greens will be supporting this sunset clause. In the process we have been through with this bill, a phenomenal amount of evidence has been put forward about the ways in which our current criminal justice system allows for the government's and ASIO's concerns about questioning people. In the course of putting forward this legislation, the government have not put their case as to why we need to change what we already have in our criminal justice system to deal with these sorts of concerns. We welcome the proposal to put in place a sunset clause that means the government have to try again in three years time to put their case for needing these extended powers. As such, we will be supporting this opposition amendment.