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ASIO Bill still suspect.

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Senator Brian Greig Australian Democrats Spokesperson for Attorney General & Justice

17 June 2003 MEDIA RELEASE 03/427

ASIO Bill Still Suspect

The Australian Democrats will today move an amendment to address the most significant flaw in the ASIO Bill.

Democrats’ Attorney-General and Justice Spokesperson, Senator Brian Greig, will today move to ensure that the ASIO legislation will only apply to people who are suspected of involvement in terrorism.

The Democrats warn that the current ASIO Bill applies to non-suspects and could be used to lock up teachers who have had terrorist suspects in their classrooms, journalists who have been investigating terrorist offences, or people who happen to live next door to a terrorist suspect.

“The central problem with this Bill is that it is not restricted to terrorist suspects - it applies to each and every Australian,” Senator Greig said.

“The Howard Government’s anti-terrorism legislation goes far beyond comparable legislation passed in Canada, the UK or the USA.”

“We believe the Government must be vigilant in protecting the security of Australians, but it must also ensure that security measures are properly targeted and do not trample civil liberties,” Senator Greig said.

“This Bill is not targeted at all.”

“The Government’s eleventh hour compromises on this Bill are an acknowledgement that the original Bill was entirely unacceptable to the Australian community, but they do not go far enough.

“Anti-terrorism measures should be aimed at terrorists, not law-abiding Australians,” Senator Greig said.

Senator Greig says the Democrats are keen to make a bad bill better, but maintain their strong opposition to turning ASIO into a secret police force and reversing the onus of proof on detainees - a serious departure from established legal principles.

Media contact: Di Graham on 02) 6277 3338 or 0417 177 523