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'Sneak and peek' threat: review anti-terror laws before police powers granted.



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DEMOCRATS MEDIA WEDNESDAY AUGUST 1 2007

SENATOR NATASHA STOTT DESPOJA SENATOR LYN ALLISON DEMOCRATS ATTORNEY-GENERAL’S SPOKESPERSON AUSTRALIAN DEMOCRATS’ LEADER

'SNEAK AND PEEK' THREAT - REVIEW ANTI-TERROR LAWS BEFORE POLICE POWERS GRANTED

The Federal Government's planned expansion of search warrant laws, which would allow police and security agencies to conduct secret searches and plant listening devices in people's homes, heighten the need for a Senate inquiry into Australia's 2005 anti-terrorism laws, according to the Australian Democrats.

A Senate inquiry into the legislation has recommended various amendments aimed at safeguarding human rights. The Government is yet to indicate whether it will move any amendments to the Bill.

"'Trust us' just isn't good enough after the Haneef debacle," Democrats’ leader Senator Lyn Allison said today. "Investigators proved how spectacularly wrong they can get it with the powers they have now but the Howard Government insists on handing over even greater powers hidden away from judicial or public scrutiny. We will vote against any legislation which undermines the human rights of Australian citizens unless that legislation contains sufficient safeguards."

The Bill also allows the chief officer of a law enforcement or intelligence agency to issue a certificate protecting the identity of covert police operatives when giving evidence in a proceeding, denying the Courts any role in evaluating whether there is a need to protect the true identity of a witness and in balancing that need against other competing interests

"The Australian Federal Police’s handling of the Haneef affair has demonstrated that the AFP is yet to come to terms with its existing powers, let alone new and expanded powers that stand to significantly infringe the right to privacy and to a fair trial," Australian Democrats' Attorney-General's spokesperson, Senator Natasha Stott Despoja said.

"Any expansion of AFP or security agency powers should be put on hold until existing powers have been subject to a full inquiry by the Senate."

Senator Stott Despoja will move terms of reference for a Senate Select Committee into the use of the 2005 anti-terrorism laws involved in the arrest and detention of Dr Haneef when the Parliament resumes.

Media contact for Senator Allison: Nicole Chvastek - 0417 613 610 Media contact for Senator Stott Despoja: Raina Hunter - 0417 085 260