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Opposition calls for intelligence-based special police counter terrorism powers.

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Today I am calling for police in all Australian jurisdictions to be given the practical intelligence-based special powers they need both to prevent terrorist attacks and deal with terrorist emergencies.

We need national leadership to ensure there is consistency across jurisdictions. It makes no sense for police powers to vary across Australia as they do - especially in emergency situations.

As a matter of priority, Tuesday’s COAG meeting should resolve to produce model legislation that guarantees consistency across jurisdictions.

The Prime Minister talks about the need for new ‘offences’ in law - but terrorists are lawless people. I believe we need more emphasis on ensuring we have practical ‘police powers’ in law.

These tough but sensible and practical powers give police the tools they need to prevent attacks but also deal with ongoing threats in emergency situations.

These are advancements on current New South Wales laws.

They provide more usable powers for the Police Commissioners and Police but with additional judicial oversight.

New powers must have adequate safeguards - I do not support powers without checks. I do not support powers that trample on the very democratic rights we are trying to preserve.

I am proposing that in every jurisdiction in Australia special police powers be triggered: • Where the Police Commissioner has credible intelligence that a terrorist act is likely to be committed; and

• Where use of these powers would assist in preventing that act; or • Following terrorist acts, for the purpose of investigation and apprehension.

I am proposing these special powers allow the Police Commissioner or their emergency delegate to designate: • A ‘target area’;

• A ‘target premise’; • A ‘target person’; • A ‘target object’; • A ‘target vehicle or kind of vehicle’; or • Any combination of each.

Once designated, police would have the powers to: • Place a cordon around a ‘target area’ (e.g. a road block); • Search all persons, vehicles and premises in a target area; • Obtain disclosure of a person’s identity if the officer has reasonable suspicion

the person is a target person; • Search a person reasonably suspected to be a target person, or in a target vehicle; • Search a vehicle reasonably suspected to be a target vehicle or contain a

target person; • Search a person found in suspicious circumstances in the company of a person reasonably suspected to be the target person; • Enter and search any premises if the officer reasonably suspects that a target

person is in the premises or a target vehicle is in the premises; and • Seize and detain items found in a search the officer reasonably suspects may have been used in a terrorist act or is evidence of a terrorist activity.

In addition, where there is an actual or immediate emergency, police officers with reasonable grounds for doing so, will be given powers to: • Tow away vehicles, move them along or restrict their parking;

• Direct people not to remove or interfere with objects; and • Direct people who might be contaminated from chemical, biological, or radiological attack to quarantine or decontamination.

These powers must be subject to important safeguards including: • Time limitations both in advance of any attack and following a terrorist attack. For example, under existing New South Wales law, the powers are limited to seven days in a pre-attack situation and 48 hours after an

attack. The powers could be renewed with a new authorisation; • The requirement for executive and judicial concurrence as soon as is practicable but within 12 hours of the authorisation and for any subsequent renewals; • The requirement of a report to be made to the Parliament on the exercise of

these powers at the earliest appropriate time and without prejudicing any ongoing operation; • Explicit exclusion of lawful industrial or political protest; • Sunset clauses on all special counter-terrorism legislation, and • Proper oversight by independent authorities such as State and Territory

Ombudsmen or Police Integrity Commissions.

I believe these are sensible powers that must be put in place. They advance the model implemented in New South Wales and being considered in a number of other states. But they are better targeted, allowing wider circumstances for these emergency powers to be put in place, yet at the same time placing stricter safeguards on their use, including the need for judicial concurrence.

The fact is that four years after September 11 nationally consistent terrorist offences and counter terrorist powers between the Commonwealth, States and Territories are long overdue. They need to be included in a new chapter of the nation’s Model Criminal Code, a task for the Model Criminal Code Officer’s Committee post consideration by COAG.

These powers give police what they need to help protect our communities.

They are targeted and time limited.

And they could be national if the Prime Minister shows the necessary leadership.

I commend these practical intelligence-based special police powers to the nation.

I urge Tuesday’s COAG meeting to endorse this plan.

Sunday, 25 September, 2005 Contact: George Svigos: 0417 196 836