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Wednesday, 11 December 2002
Page: 7695

Senator NETTLE (11:44 AM) —Whilst the minister is getting an answer to that question, I note that this opposition amendment seeks to remove just one of the groups of people who will be affected by this legislation. It seeks to remove one of the most vulnerable groups who potentially will be affected by this legislation. We still have that wide gamut for all nonsuspects over the age of 18. I think it is worth noting some of the other vulnerable groups of people who will be impacted by this legislation and whom the opposition is not proposing to remove or exempt from this legislation.

I understand that under the Criminal Code people of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander descent are able to be questioned for a period of two hours rather than four hours, which is the standard in the current Criminal Code. That change to the Criminal Code is because they are recognised as one of the vulnerable groups in the way they are treated in our criminal justice system. We have seen the impact on that community through the exercising of our criminal justice system. The Royal Commission on Aboriginal Deaths in Custody is but one result of the impact on that particular community.

The committee heard numerous representatives from Islamic organisations talking about the impact of this legislation on their particular community. So there is another community that is vulnerable in the way in which this legislation will be implemented across the board. Let us point out some of those who will be particularly impacted. We have talked about journalists, and it is worth pointing out some of the other groups that will be impacted by it.

I spoke about the impact on the Islamic community and that is certainly something that we have seen in my home state of New South Wales, where Senator Faulkner's colleagues in the Carr government have introduced a range of different pieces of criminal justice legislation. Not the least of those is the latest piece of terrorism legislation introduced into the state parliament last week, which goes to enabling strip searches of people as young as 10. That legislation operates without warrant. Senator Greig was talking about the TI legislation; the New South Wales legislation also operates without warrant. Whilst it is commendable that the opposition is putting forward this amendment to take out one of the vulnerable groups which will be impacted on by this legislation, it is worth noting the other groups that the opposition has chosen not to point out.

The minister talked before about his regret that people under the age of 18 could be involved in terrorist activities. There is an obligation on the government to do everything that they can to reduce terrorism throughout the community. We have had several occasions to talk in this chamber about the ways in which the government could be going forward to help to reduce terrorist activities in Australia and in our region. Not the least of those would be to improve our relationship with our neighbours. Those relationships have not been boosted at all by the inflammatory comments of the Prime Minister two weekends ago.

There are all those options on the table which our government could use to truly address the root causes of terrorism and ensure that we are not creating an environment where young people grow up in a culture of violence. Addressing poverty and inequality is where we can start with long-term solutions that will remove the root causes of terrorism. Looking at Australia's aid programs and cooperative programs for community development and community empowerment in our region are things that we could do long term to truly address the root causes of terrorism rather than bring in draconian legislation that seeks to deal with the symptoms of terrorism rather than look at the root causes of terrorism.

Question agreed to.

The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN (Senator Knowles)—The question is that proposed sections 34NA and 34V stand as printed.

Question negatived.