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PM defends anti-terrorism laws -

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(generated from captions) We are, unfortunately, living in an era and at a time when unusual but necessary measures are needed to cope with an unusual and threatening situation. Today he announced plans for a raft of tough new anti-terror laws. The proposals will be discussed with state and territory leaders at a special summit to be held later this month. The Government wants greater powers for police and security agencies, including 12-month control orders allowing them to monitor people deemed a terrorist risk. These would be similar to apprehended violence orders, but would allow stricter conditions to be imposed on a person, such as travel and association restrictions and tracking devices. Under other changes: The PM is confident the changes strike the right balance. I believe these measures do provide a lot of extra protection, but they do not, given the circumstances in which we live, unfairly restrict the rights of the citizen. There's likely to be greater power to stop, search and question people at airports, and other public transport hubs. Random bag searches may be allowed and it'll be a crime to leave baggage unattended. As well, those seeking Australian citizenship will now have to wait 3 years instead of 12 months. Today's announcement has angered civil liberties groups with concerns it's politically motivated and unjustified. If you grant huge new increases in powers without any checks or any limitations or any oversight, then, by definition, it's a recipe for a police state. The idea for Australians to be subject to control orders or preventative detention or to be locked up for 14 days without being even suspected of a criminal charge are something that Australians just should not put up with. Nobody likes the fact that we have to do these things, but I do believe that the suggestion that it represents a quasi-police state is really quite over the top. The PM denies he's targeting Muslim clerics and rejects suggestions the new measures will stifle free speech or political comment. There is a difference between saying, you know, "I think the troops should come home, "I don't think Howard should have sent them, "I think it's a terrible mistake - he's a disaster", and actually encouraging people to attack them. John Howard has also denied that today's announcement was designed to divert attention from the Government's Telstra troubles. He has managed to anger some of his coalition colleagues, who were briefed at a special party room meeting today. With the legislation yet to be drafted, some backbenchers are furious, saying they have no idea what they're being asked to support. Senator George Brandis accused Mr Howard of ambushing his backbench.

Petro Georgiou labelled one proposed change as un-Australian and possibly unconstitutional. ACT Chief Minister John Stanhope says the PM must give good reason why the changes are needed. I think we need to avoid politically populist responses, you know, chest-thumping responses. We need to look very, very hard and cold at the changes. John Howard says state and territory leaders now have ample time to consider the proposals before the COAG meeting in just over two weeks. Narda Gilmore, ABC News, Canberra. There are reports tonight that Queensland senator Barnaby Joyce may be backing away from supporting the sale of Telstra after damning revelations this week about the state of the telecommunications network. Senator Joyce is reported to have described the new information as "not encouraging", but has stopped short of declaring how he will vote. His remarks follow accusations in Canberra today that the Deputy Prime Minister has broken the law by releasing material from a confidential Telstra briefing. Mark Vaile has told parliament he shared the information with his National Party colleagues. Dana Robertson reports.