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New ‘Counter Terrorism’ measures are to be introduced into Federal Parliament

On 5 August, 2014 the Abbott government announced plans to introduce new counter terrorism laws to Parliament.

The new laws are said to combat home-grown terrorism and Australians who participate in terrorist activities overseas.

The Government argues that the new laws will help the Government to achieve the following aims:-

  • Increase intelligence collection and assessment to better understand the onshore and offshore threat of terrorism;
  • Enhance border protection measures to prevent terrorists leaving Australia and identify those wanting to return;
  • Improve the technical capabilities of our various border protection agencies; and
  • Provide adequate resources to engage those at risk of radicalisation.

These goals will be achieved through a variety of measures including:-

  • Providing more than $600 million in additional funding over the next four years for agencies involved in counter terrorism activities including the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO), the Australian Federal Police (AFP), the Australian Secret Intelligence Service (ASIS), the Office of National Assessments (ONA) and Customs and Border Protection;
  • A review of Australia’s counter terrorism co-ordinating machinery;
  • Broadening the listing criteria for terrorist organisations to ensure advocacy of terrorist acts is not limited to specific acts of terrorism but will also include the promotion and encouragement of terrorism;
  • Making it easier to arrest terrorists by lowering the threshold for arrest without a warrant for terrorism offences;
  • Ensuring ASIO can continue with its current questioning and detention powers beyong July 2016 (when those powers are scheduled to expire under current legislation) and that the AFP can continue to use control orders and preventative detention orders (powers which are scheduled to expire in December 2015 under current legislation);
  • Extending AFP stop, search and seizure powers in relation to terrorist acts and offences beyound December 2015;
  • Improving the ability of the AFP to seek control orders on returning foreign fighters;
  • Making it easier to prosecute foreign fighters, including by making it an offence to travel to a designated area where terrorist organisations are conducting hostile activities unless there is a legitimate purpose;
  • Clarifying that it is an offence to participate in any way in terrorist training; and
  • Enabling ASIO to request the suspension of an Australian passport (or foreign passport for a dual national) in appropriate circumstances.

Additional measures are expected to be released in the near future relating to the collection of telecommunications meta-data. Such measures are expected to be heavily opposed by civil rights advocate groups.

For more information on any legal issues of concern to you, contact Brazel Moore Lawyers on (02) 4324 7699 to speak to an experienced Solicitor today.

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