Legislation passed a bill that permits control orders to be given to minors as young as 14.
Throughout 2016, the Coalition Government, with the support of the Labor Party, pushed through a number of counter-terrorism laws. Most recently, legislation has passed that makes ‘high risk offenders’ who have already served time subject to detention orders if they are still deemed to be a threat to the community. This would prevent them from becoming fully rehabilitated and returning to the community.
Legislation was also passed through both Houses that permits control orders to be given for minors as young as 14. The Australian Federal Police (AFP) can now monitor, contain, and control young people they feel may pose a risk, even without the young person having been convicted of wrongdoing. The legislation also prevents anyone facing terrorism charges from accessing information about the evidence the AFP has against them. This makes it extremely difficult for lawyers to defend their clients and makes the judicial process very one-sided, changing the nature of the rule of law in Australia. This legislation can therefore be seen as a direct threat to the right to a fair trial, as enshrined in both Australian and international human rights law. The legislation was supported by both major parties, with the only opposition coming from the Greens and Liberal Democrat David Leyonhjelm.
According to Justice Minister Michael Keenan, these laws are completely unwarranted.
According to Justice Minister Michael Keenan, “events in Australia have shown us that these powers are required.” However, there have been very few terrorist attacks on Australian soil, making these laws completely unwarranted. These laws have a sunset clause of ten years (i.e. they expire after ten years, unless extended), as they are considered to be a temporary infringement on people’s rights for the sake of public safety. However, similar counter-terrorism laws have been around since the September 11 terrorist attacks in 2001. Since then, these laws have only become stricter and more invasive, despite the absence of an imminent threat.
These kinds of laws divide, rather than unite, Australians. Even if there were enough terrorist activites in Australia to warrant a response from the government, this is the wrong approach. Rather than infringing on the rights of those suspected of being terrorist sympathisers, governments should atltempt to build a society in which people feel welcomed and not tempted to join those who want to attack us.