PM John Howard 'crashing through' draconian new anti-terror laws in just 1 day


THE Federal Government's tough new anti-terrorism laws go much further than previously stated, according to a draft copy of the Bill published yesterday on the ACT Government's website.

Sweeping shoot-to-kill powers and strict secrecy provisions will further spook civil libertarians, who regard the new laws as draconian.

According to the draft, the Australian Federal Police will be given extraordinary "preventive detention" powers to lock up anyone they believe might be involved in or have knowledge of a terrorist act.

If a suspect refuses to surrender, the police will be authorised to cause their "death or grievous bodily harm" provided the person "cannot be apprehended in any other manner".

Mr Stanhope said that his decision to publish the draft law was sparked by his belief the community should know about the laws has enabled the airing of more details, which include:

*POWERS to prevent detainees from telling relatives they are being detained;

*LIFE in jail for financing terrorism;

*SUSPECTS to wear tracking devices;

*SUSPECTS or those with knowledge prevented from working, using phones or the internet;

*ACCESS only to lawyers who are security cleared and all contact monitored by police;

*SUSPECTS or associates banned from leaving the country;

*RESTRICTED movement between specified times each day; and

*POLICE will be able to order transport operators to provide details of cargoes and then swear them to secrecy under threat of two years in jail.

The Bill also overhauls sedition laws seven years jail for inciting hatred or encouraging an enemy.

Mr Stanhope and other state leaders signed off on the tough package last month, but the ACT chief now believes the community must be consulted before the laws are passed.

The Howard Government tried to force Mr Stanhope to remove the draft 107-page Bill from his website yesterday, but he flatly refused.

He said he was not prepared to keep the people of the ACT in the dark.

"I believe all Australians should have the opportunity to see, think about and have input into this legislation," he said.

"These laws are of such significance that every individual and every organisation has the right to have a proper look at the drafts before they (become) law.

"It is appalling that the Howard Government apparently believes that the people of Australia have no right to see this draft legislation, or to have any input whatsoever into its formulation," Mr Stanhope said.

"I find it simply unacceptable for anybody to suggest that I should put my signature on this draft bill, send it back to the Prime Minister and say 'Yes, Prime Minister, I agree to this bill, I haven't consulted with the people of the ACT ... but I'm prepared to sign off on it,' " Mr Stanhope told ABC Radio.

"He simply is intent on crashing through this legislation, with its fundamental implications for civil liberties and human rights."

The Northern Terroritory leader Ms Martin also said she was concerned about some of the draft bill's measures.

"At COAG [Council of Australian Governments] we agreed to principles about this legislation and there was a robust discussion, and I think the states were very concerned the appropriate safeguards were in what was tough legislation," Ms Martin told ABC Radio National.

"And that was those principles of judicial review, that anyone picked up under the legislation had a right to legal representation and there was a sunset clause.

"That was the first phase. The second phase was to look at the detail and certainly I think every state leader and all states will be very concerned that those principles and what we want to see incorporated are there and they are reflected in that draft legislation."

The bill is due to be introduced to Federal Parliament on November 1. Increadibly just one day has been set aside by the Government for the House and the Senate to review the legislation.

John Howard says these laws are all about protecting our democracy (...pity he doesn't seem to believe in it too much!)and the Australian (...or does he mean the American?) way of life.

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This page was last updated Mon Oct 17 19:03:15 2005 Pacific time