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Police given new powers to monitor terror sus -

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Police given new powers to monitor terror suspects

AM - Friday, 22 October , 2004 08:16:00

Reporter: Alison Caldwell

TONY EASTLEY: States such as Victoria and Queensland are being advised to consider adopting new
police powers to spy on potential terrorists, after New South Wales boosted its own laws.

Police in NSW will be allowed to obtain covert search warrants allowing them to spy on suspected
terrorists and bug their conversations for much longer than previously allowed.

Describing the new laws as a fishing expedition, civil liberties groups are claiming that the
powers will leave the door open to police corruption. But proponents believe the laws will put
police on the front foot when it comes to monitoring potential terror suspects.

Paul McKinnon is an international security consultant and former Assistant Commissioner of Police
who's based in Sydney. He says the Bob Carr should be congratulated.

Paul McKinnon is speaking to Alison Caldwell.

PAUL MCKINNON: It's a very sensible step. If you fall back on the old cliché, you know, closing the
gate after the horse has bolted - he's made sure that the gate is getting stronger.

ALISON CALDWELL: Does the rest of the country need to look at something like this?

PAUL MCKINNON: Well, counter measures are always wise, and in essence, the changes that are made
are not all that dramatic. Sydney, as Mr Carr would know and others would certainly confirm, so far
as the threat and risk scale is concerned has always been the number one target in every threat
assessment that's ever been issued.

ALISON CALDWELL: Police will be allowed to obtain covert search warrants, they'll be able to bug
suspects now for up to 90 days instead of previously, what was it, 21? Why do they need that much
time?

PAUL MCKINNON: Well, the time is significant and it'd be from operational experience in the normal
course of activities because quite often, the police have to go back to the magistrates and get a
second warrant to sustain an operation, so it makes sense within the light of that experience that
the time frame be extended.

And also, if as the current law exists, allows them to implant listening devices and they see
objects that could indicate the commission of another offence, it legitimises the search that's
conducted as a result.

Now, if they're inside a premises and they see what they suspect to be bomb-making items and
bomb-making guidelines and documents, they have a right to take possession of these things to
prevent a crime.

But those areas are pretty grey and often in dispute and what the state has done is to legitimise
that process in a formal way, which makes a hell of a lot of sense.

ALISON CALDWELL: What about the concern that this leaves the door open to police corruption?

PAUL MCKINNON: That's absolute nonsense. The warrants are scrutinised by the bench, the magistrates
or judges. In the case of state law and in the case of telephone interception it's a federal court
justice. So you know, there's a substantial amount of rigmarole involved in securing a warrant, not
the least of which is the information that is given to justify the issue.

ALISON CALDWELL: Isn't it the case, though, that similar laws in the United States haven't worked?

PAUL MCKINNON: Probably because of the complexity of the number of agencies involved. I mean, the
enactment of the Patriot Act was to consolidate all of the loose bits and pieces of the law into
one single piece of legislation. And then the understanding of that, I think, is still relatively
confusing so far as American law enforcement is concerned.

ALISON CALDWELL: So does this mean we'll see more terrorism suspects rounded up in the future?

PAUL MCKINNON: We'll, we've been pretty fortunate so far that most of the suspects have come
unstuck through visa breaches or have been given up by the Muslim communities in which they've
attempted to operate, both in Sydney and Melbourne and Western Australia.

ALISON CALDWELL: So do we really need these new laws then, if it's already working?

PAUL MCKINNON: Well, it is working to some extent

TONY EASTLEY: Security consultant Paul McKinnon speaking there with Alison Caldwell. And the
Victorian Attorney-General's office has told AM that Victoria's anti-terrorism laws are as good as
those in New South Wales and are tough enough as they stand.

(c) 2006 ABC