The Guardian February 27, 2002


"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."

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