Paul Maley and Sid Maher | August 13
ATTORNEY-GENERAL Robert McClelland has moved to soften elements of Australia's counter-terrorism laws, barely a week after police raided a cell of suspected Somali and Lebanese extremists in Melbourne.
In an effort to move beyond the laws created in the wake of the September 11, 2001 terror attacks on the US and the 2002 Bali bombings, Mr McClelland announced a suite of changes to Australia's terror laws.
Under the changes announced last night, the length of time that police can detain terror suspects will be capped at nine days.
But police will be given the power to search premises without a warrant where they believe there is material that threatens public health, such as explosives or biological agents.
However, as a safeguard, police will not be able to enter a premises for the purpose of gathering evidence merely to address acute security threats.
The changes also extend the amount of time police have to re-enter premises from one hour to 12 in emergencies.
Mr McClelland said the government's proposals hardened Australia's laws in some areas and moderated them in others.
But he left little doubt that overall the adjustments represented a softening of the body of laws introduced by the Howard government, which he said had been passed "expeditiously" following the September 11 attacks and the 2002 Bali bombings.
Under the changes, the definition of a terrorist act will be expanded to include acts of "psychological" harm, as well as physical injury, and police will be allowed to search premises without a warrant if they believe dangerous materials, such as bombs or biological weapons, are located inside. Read more here ...
Source: The Australian
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