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Govt fails to justify security powers expansion

Media Release
Lee Rhiannon 4 May 2012

Australian Greens Senator and national security spokesperson Lee Rhiannon has called on the Attorney General Nicola Roxon to put on hold her plans to expand the powers of Australia's intelligence and instead initiate the COAG review of federal and state counter terrorism laws that is now almost a year overdue ("Super warrants proposed as expansion of security powers", p 4 SMH today).

"The Attorney General in unilaterally deciding to expand security powers has sidestepped a previous government commitment to ensure counter terror laws were being used in a way that is evidence based and proportionate to the threat," Senator Rhiannon said.

"The Labor government has again failed to address concerns about the overreach of the Howard government's counter terrorist laws and their disproportionate impact on human rights.

"In 2009 the UN Human Rights Committee, in its review of Australia's human rights performance, recommended Australia review its anti-terrorism laws to ensure they comply with the human rights protected under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

"Minister Roxon has not set out that the threat of terrorism has increased to justify any expansion of Australia intelligence agencies powers.

"The failure to publicly disclose a reason for an increase in intelligence powers lends weight to the impression that the government is beating the law and order drum to distract from their own failings.

"Many of the measures in the counter terrorism laws adopted under the Howard government have not been used.

"We know from the Haneef case, the quashed conviction and acquittal of Jack Thomas and the dismissal of the Al-Haque case that Howard's terrorism laws can cause damage.

"Minister Roxon needs to ensure that the COAG review examines how intelligence and law enforcement agencies, courts and prisons are administering these laws, if the laws are needed and whether they restrict human rights," Senator Rhiannon said.


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