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Who needs sedition laws when you have the gag?

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Australian Democrats Press Releases

Senator Natasha Stott Despoja Democrats Senator for South Australia Australian Democrats spokesperson for Attorney Generals

Dated: 06 December 2005 Press Release Number: uprqryzv Portfolio: Attorney Generals Related: Attorney General & Justice

Who needs sedition laws when you have the gag?

The process by which the Government rammed the anti-terrorism legislation through the Senate today was practically 'seditious', according to the Australian Democrats.

"The Government gagged and guillotined this debate, to the detriment of free speech and democracy," Democrats' Attorney-Generals Spokesperson Senator Natasha Stott Despoja said.

"This was arguably the most significant piece of legislation the Senate has dealt with in the last decade. Yet, the Government stopped Senators from speaking to the Bill and refused to allow debate on the majority of the proposed amendments.

"The Democrat amendments to the Bill were serious and constructive. We attempted to insert safeguards into the legislation to protect fundamental legal principles such as freedom of speech; the right not to be detained without charge; and, the protection of legal professional privilege.

"We also moved to incorporate the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights into the Bill; protect the rights of children; restrict the power to authorise orders to appropriate courts; allow detainees access to full judicial review; remove sedition from the Bill; and, decrease the sunset clause to three years.

"These amendments deserved serious debate however, many were not even able to be discussed in the three and a half hours allocated for the committee stage of the Bill.

"In an affront to the role of the Senate, the Government showed no willingness to seriously consider the many amendments circulated by the Democrats and other opposition parties.

"Labor Senators sold out on sedition. They supported the legislation despite all their protestations, despite the sedition provisions remaining in the Bill, and despite none of their other amendments passing the Senate today.

"This is a shameful and sad day for democracy," Senator Stott Despoja said.