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Wednesday, 9 November 2016
Page: 2259

Senator BRANDIS (QueenslandAttorney-General, Vice-President of the Executive Council and Leader of the Government in the Senate) (09:46): With respect, Senator, you are wrong about the first part, because this does not operate after a terrorist act has occurred—in fact, the whole point is to anticipate and interdict a terrorist act that may be about to occur. So, with respect, you are quite wrong about the first of those two observations.

In relation to the second, I really cannot do better than my answer to your earlier question. 'Imminent' will mean different things to different people. This amendment imposes an outer limit on what might be thought to be imminent. It may be, of course, that the anticipated or feared terrorist act is feared to take effect a lot sooner than that, but one of the operational difficulties is that one can envisage a set of circumstances in which the authorities form a view to the appropriate level of satisfaction required by division 105 of the Criminal Code that a terrorist act is about to occur, and they want to use the control order powers. But they cannot say that it might be about to occur in an hour's time or in 24 hours time, or even within the next week. They are merely satisfied to the appropriate threshold of persuasion that a terrorist act is about to occur—and the problem with the word 'imminent' is that, as you rightly say, Senator, it does presume that the act is about to happen.

This amendment will deal with the circumstances in which the relevant authorities are satisfied to an appropriate level of satisfaction that a terrorist event is about to happen in the sense that it could happen in an instant but may not happen for a period of days—they just do not know. Community safety, I would respectfully suggest to you, demands that in that state of uncertainty the power should not merely be exercisable on the basis that the terrorist act is going to occur in the next hour or so if the investigatory authorities are not sure. But, equally, the whole point of a preventative detention order is to act urgently in urgent circumstances. So there has to be an outer limit put on the period during which, or as to which, the relevant authorities anticipate the event may occur, and the period of time that has been chosen is 14 days.