Shadow attorney-general Mark Dreyfus is calling on the government to better explain the counerterrorism laws. Photo: Alex EllinghausenPolitical news: full coverage
The federal government needs to do more to explain to the Australian people why the sweeping new counterterrorism measures it wants to turn into law next week are necessary, Labor says.
Shadow attorney-general Mark Dreyfus told Fairfax Media that while Labor understood that security agencies and police needed additional powers, it was vital that this be fully explained to the public so that confidence in national security laws was maintained.
“It is the government’s obligation to explain why these laws are needed and why they are urgent and why they need to be considered with a shortened parliamentary timetable,” he said.
“I think the government can and should do more … Public scrutiny is really important to build and maintain confidence in national security laws.”
He was speaking as the government prepared to try and pass its counterterrorism “foreign fighters” bill through both houses of parliament by the end of next week.
The laws include controversial measures to make it a crime to “advocate” and “encourage” terrorism, as well as to travel abroad to a terrorist hotspot without an innocent reason.
A week ago, a high-powered parliamentary inquiry recommended the government make 36 changes to the government’s proposals, mostly involving additional oversight to the measures.
Attorney-General George Brandis has accepted the recommendations, but Mr Dreyfus said Labor wanted to ensure those recommendations were properly implemented and was in talks with the government about how that should be done.
He acknowledged the laws were going through parliament on a “constrained timetable”, but said there was some urgency given the heightened terrorism threat.
Fairfax Media requested an interview with Senator Brandis, but he was not available on Friday.
The committee had recommended that the powers given to police and spy agencies to hold people without charge or restrict their movements should expire two years after the next federal election, significantly sooner than the 10-year sunset clause the government was seeking.
It also called for greater oversight of the foreign minister’s power to declare terrorist “no-go zones”, making it a crime to visit such a zone without an innocent reason.
It called for the government to define more clearly what was meant by “advocating”, “encouraging” and “promoting” terrorism, all of which would become a crime.
This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.