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Monday, 3 November 2003
Page: 21729

Mr McCLELLAND (2:12 PM) —My question is also to the Attorney-General, and I refer to his last answer. Can the Attorney-General confirm that the ASIO Legislation Amendment (Terrorism) Act, to which he has referred, includes the following powers: the power to detain a person without charge on the basis that they have information about a potential terrorist offence, the power to renew a seven-day period of detention if new information comes to light, and the power to imprison a person who fails to cooperate with the questioning process for a period of five years? Isn't it the case that the Attorney-General did not seek to exercise any of those powers in the case of Willie Brigitte yet he is seeking further powers?

Mr RUDDOCK (Attorney-General) —I have in front of me a copy of the relevant section which deals with the way in which these issues are dealt with. They are not powers reposed in me. There are requests that are forthcoming from a competent organisation. I have already told you that ASIO formed a view that it was a moot point as to whether or not the powers would be available.

You can see quite clearly if you read section 34C(3) of subdivision B, `Questioning, detention etc', dealing with the requesting of a warrant, that the minister—speaking of the Attorney—may by writing consent to the making of a request, but only if the minister is satisfied that there are reasonable grounds for believing that issuing the warrant to be requested will substantially assist in the collection of intelligence that is important in relation to a terrorism offence and that relying on other methods of collecting that intelligence would be ineffective. I think you can see, simply by reading those terms about the nature of the test, that there has to be a judgment that it will substantially assist, it has to be on reasonable grounds and it has to be after satisfying oneself that other intelligence would not be effective in dealing with the issue that you could come to a view. You can see why the authorities have been very effectively constrained by those words. So in the advice that was given to me this is clearly a moot point.