"Anti-terror" bills on hold
The Howard Government has put its so-called anti-terrorist legislation on hold because of the heat coming from the children overboard affair and revelations about the military spying on ship-to-shore communications. "In this climate the Government is suddenly nervous about bringing on for debate its draconian anti-terrorist legislation", said Greens Senator Bob Brown. "The revelations that the Government lied to the public over the children overboard affair and used intelligence agencies to spy on Australians during the 'Tampa crisis' have created a wave of scepticism about the Government's handling of military and intelligence matters." As of the close of Parliament last week no bills had been tabled by the Government. The proposed laws would allow ordinary Australians to be detained for up to 48 hours without charge and without access to a lawyer. Those detained do not have to be suspected of terrorism or terrorist links. They may be people that ASIO believes might have information about suspects. Separate legislation to gag government whistleblowers has also been withheld by the Government. "Both sets of laws are an affront to an open and democratic society", said Senator Brown. "I will be moving that the legislation be the subject of a full Senate inquiry."