mailing list archives
Re: Australia becomes a police state [serious]
From: Silvio Cesare <silvio () big net au>
Date: Fri, 6 Dec 2002 11:49:33 +1100
Umm. Not to rain on your Indymedia-inspired parade, Silvio, but have
you read the legislation, or any of the discussions in parliament
surrounding it? Or have you only read the hyperbolic predictions of doom
that Indymedia agitators have made? The single key point that seems to
be missing in Indymedia forums postings as of early this morning when I
last checked is that these powers are only intended to be invoked in
the event of a terrorist attack on the State. Not for random
harrassment of random ethnic groups, raids on J Random Hacker, or raids
on political agitators. Nor will graphing the local courthouse cause
these laws to be invoked.
Please, read the legislation itself, and the parliamentary discussion,
[ everyone should read at least the direct discussion of the legislation,
the replies in parliment later are optional reading.. because it
states the obvious of a police state that we now live in. ]
As per your request -->
As defined, terrorism are those acts intended to intimidate the
government or the public and involving serious injury or danger to
people, serious damage to property, or serious interference with
an electronic system. Legitimate, non-violent protest cannot
trigger the proposed powers.
In cases where none of these officers are available, an officer
above the rank of superintendent, being a police senior executive
position, may authorise the use of the powers. This succession
planning will guard against a situation where the terrorist attack
targets or isolates the most senior ranks of NSW police.
Clause 7 sets out what the powers are for. They are to permit
Find a particular person--a target person;
Find a particular vehicle or a vehicle of a particular kind--a target
To prevent a terrorist act in a particular area--a target area.
They may also be used to target specific premises, when a person or
place authorisation permits.
These different purposes recognise the range of possible scenarios.
Police might receive a warning that a particular type of vehicle will
be involved in a terrorist attack.
Or the information may be that a particular area is the target,
without telling us who or how it will be attacked.
The authorisation provisions are sufficiently flexible to allow
persons to be described--a photo or a drawing may be used for this
The target area provisions extend to persons or vehicles about to
enter the target area, or persons and vehicles that have recently left
Clause 17 gives officers the power to stop and search a person if the
officer suspects on reasonable grounds the person is a target person,
the person is in a target vehicle or is in a target area.
Search powers may also be used in connection with persons found in
suspicious circumstances in the company of a target person.get,
The search may be a frisk search (running the hands over the outside
of a person's clothing), an ordinary search (jackets, hats, gloves,
shoes may be removed and examined) or it may be a strip search in very
Frisk searches and ordinary searches will generally be enough too
determine if the person is carrying a bomb or a gun for example. left
A strip search is much more intrusive and will only be permitted if
Clause 18 permits a police officer to stop and search a vehicle, and
anything in or on the vehicle, if the officer suspects on reasonable
grounds the vehicle is the target of the authorisation, a person in
the vehicle is a target, or the vehicle is in a target area.
Clause 19 permits an officer to enter and search premises if the
officer suspects on reasonable grounds a target person is inside, a
target vehicle is inside or if the premises are in a target area.
Clause 20 permits an officer to seize and detain any item the officer
suspects could be used or could have been used to commit a terrorist
The Government acknowledges the range of items seized could be broad.
This is because a terrorist attack could be made in many ways--with
firearms, explosives, gases or liquids.
It is appropriate that any article that an officer suspects should be
able to be seized for further assessment.
Clause 22 makes it an offence without reasonable excuse to hinder an
officer exercising these powers--the maximum penalty is 100 penalty
units or 2 years imprisonment, or both.
Clause 23 requires officers to identify themselves and give the reason
why they are exercising one of these powers, as soon as is reasonably
practical before or after exercising a power under the act. The
reasonably practical test is an important one--if police are trying to
manage hundreds of people after a terrorist incident, they may not be
able to provide this information in every case.
[ 2 years imprisment.. yet its not mandatory to identify yourself as
Part 4 of the Bill permits members of law enforcement agencies of
other Australian jurisdictions to be authorised to use the powers.
This recognises that in an emergency situation, we want to maximise
our capacity to respond to a terrorist incident, especially in the
area of scarce resources such as specialist search units. Such an
officer ultimately remains under the command and control of his or her
home law enforcement agency.
It makes no sense to do otherwise, surely?
The terrorist laws also apply to "serious inteference with an electronic
system" - so computing "crimes" are now formalized as being involved
as a primary terrorist problem.
I'm still not sure why this is on full-disclosure, though...
Lets listen to some politicions -->
The Hon. RICHARD JONES [9.12 p.m.]: Indeed, we are moving inexorably
towards a police state, and the New South Wales Minister for Police
would be very happy if that were to happen. He is the worst Minister
for Police that I have encountered in more than 15 years in this
Parliament. He is a very aggressive man who should not be in the
position of Minister for Police. His appointment shows the danger of
appointing somebody from Sussex Street straight into the Ministry.
Clearly it has not worked at all. The Terrorism (Police Powers) Bill
gives police immense powers and undoubtedly takes New South Wales one
step closer to being a total police state. I guess that that is the
direction in which the Government wants to head. Fortunately, I will
not be here when it happens. The Commissioner of Police or any other
senior police officer may, with the concurrence or confirmation of the
Minister for Police, give an authorisation for the exercise of special
powers for the purpose of finding a target person, a target vehicle,
or preventing or responding to a terrorist act in a target area. An
authorisation enables a police officer to demand that a person give
his or her name and address, if the officer reasonably suspects that
the person is the target person or is in the target person's company,
or that the person is in a target vehicle or is in a target area. Any
person or any vehicle can also be searched without a warrant.
A police officer can enter and search, without warrant, any premises,
and seize and detain anything. The bill was introduced only two weeks
ago. There was no consultation. The Government is pushing this
legislation through before the election. The Law Society's criminal
law committee conducted an urgent review of the bill and has expressed
concerns. Part 3 gives police special powers with respect to people
who are suspected on reasonable grounds of being the target of an
authorisation, or who are in or on a vehicle that is suspected on
reasonable grounds to be the target of an authorisation.. The powers
require disclosure of identity by virtue of clause 16, although
without warrant, and empower police to stop and search a person by
virtue of clause 17, a vehicle by virtue of clause 18, or premises by
virtue of clause 19. These powers will be available to be exercised
whether or not the officer has been provided with or notified of the
terms of the authorisation, in accordance with clause 14 in part 2.
The question I wish to have answered is this: How can a police officer
act under an authorisation, or form a suspicion based on reasonable
grounds, if he or she does not even know the terms of the
It is of even greater concern that the powers under part 3 can be
triggered merely by a person's presence in a target area, by a person
being about to enter the area or by having recently left the area.
There is no need for police to suspect on reasonable grounds that a
person is, was, or will be involved in suspected terrorist activity.
Furthermore, by virtue of clause 21 police will be allowed to use
"such force as is reasonably necessary" in exercising these powers.
The application of the powers to people or vehicles which are not the
target of an authorisation should be predicated on police forming a
suspicion on reasonable grounds that the powers must be exercised to
prevent a terrorist attack or to apprehend the persons who are
responsible for committing a terrorist attack. It is unacceptable that
people who happened to be in a target area can be subjected to
searches on the basis of where they are, not who they are or what they
may have done. The bill effectively gives police a loophole in the
requirement for authorisation because it will be sufficient to obtain
authorisation for an area, as opposed to authorisation relating to a
person or vehicle, as the current warrant regime requires.
Clause 13 means that an authorisation is not subject to any form of
judicial review. The clause, which relates to "Authorisation not open
to challenge", states:
(1) An authorisation (and any decision of the Police Minister--
believe it or not, that means the current New South Wales Minister for
--under this Part with respect to the authorisation) may not be
challenged, reviewed, quashed or called into question on any grounds
whatsoever before any court, tribunal, body or person in any legal
proceedings, or restrained, removed or otherwise affected by
proceedings in the nature of prohibition or mandamus.
(2) For the purposes of subsection (1), legal proceedings includes an
investigation into police or other conduct under any Act (other than
the Police Integrity Commission Act 1996).
Those provisions clearly show that the Minister for Police has total
powers that may not be challenged, reviewed, quashed or called into
question on any grounds whatsoever before any court, tribunal, body or
person in any legal proceedings, nor can the Minister for Police be
restrained, removed or otherwise affected by proceedings in the nature
of prohibition or mandamus. These are extraordinary powers--quite
extraordinary. We must remember that many Australians died for freedom
in this country, yet it is proposed that in an instant we should allow
those freedoms to be frittered away in this House.
The limitation of clause 13 is exacerbated by clause 29, which
^^ goes on for a while.. check it out yourself.
Full-Disclosure - We believe in it.