BY ANDREW BARCLAY
New anti-terror laws introduce by the state government represent the “most serious breach of human rights proposed yet”, according to a Greens MP.
“These laws will see people imprisoned and interrogated based on secret hearsay evidence and unverified police reports in an unprecedented expansion of police powers,” says Greens’ Justice Spokesperson David Shoebridge.
Mr Shoebridge says the laws represent an overreach and beyond existing laws, which allow police to detain someone to prevent an immediate threat to the public.
“We have seen such schemes overseas create extreme human rights violations, with no substantial impact on preventing or uncovering terrorism.”
“NSW seems determined to lead the way in the race to strip human rights and civil liberties by a continued expansion of punitive police powers.”
The laws introduced by justice and police minister Troy Grant mean New South Wales police will be able to detain and question terrorism suspects for up to 14 days.
The Terrorism (Police Powers) Amendment (Investigative Detention) Bill 2016 is based on similar laws in the UK.
The changes were put forward following events last year when 15-year-old Farhad Khalil Mohammad Jabar was charged over the shooting death of 58-year-old accountant Curtis Cheng at Police headquarters in Parramatta.
Civil liberties campaigners have also reacted swiftly to criticise the law.
Stephen Banks, president of The NSW Council for Civil Liberties president told ABC News Online the laws would isolate young Australians.
“The police, when they deprive individuals of their liberty, do so under the supervision of an independent arm of government – that is the judiciary,” he said.”
“That is such a fundamental aspect of our free society… and here we are throwing it away.”
The Premier Mike Baird said in a statement the new powers would mean officers have the time to investigate plots before suspects were released back into the community.
“We have to do everything possible to protect our community from terrortist threats and these new powers do exactly that, by giving our police the ability to properly investigate terrorist plots,” Mr Baird said.
The changes allow NSW police to arrest and detain a person for up to four days, with a review by a senior police officer every 12 hours, if there are reasonable grounds for suspecting they committed a terrorist act in the past 28 days or are involved in planning one in the next fortnight.
A Supreme Court Judge can extend the detention period after that in seven-day increments up to a total 14 days.
A key element of the law prevents the arrest or detention of anyone under 14, and the minister says there will be “appropriate protections” for anyone under the age of18.
The New South Wales opposition has indicated it is likely to support the new laws after Labor Leader Luke Foley said the laws appeared more reasonable than original proposal of a 28 day detention period.
The introduction of the laws follow an in-principle agreement last month at the Council of Australian Governments meeting that proposed the NSW model would become to basis of a nationally consistent model.