Police gain new anti-terror search powers

November 15, 2010 - 10:34PM


Police have been given new powers to enter a home without a warrant under new anti-terror laws.

Labor and the coalition voted together in the Senate on Monday to pass the legislation, and defeat a series of Green amendments.

Federal Attorney-General Robert McClelland said the legislation would give the Australian Federal Police and security agencies the tools they needed to fight terrorism, with appropriate safeguards.

"Our national security and counter-terrorism laws will be exercised in a just and accountable way," he said in a statement.

Police have gained new powers to enter premises without a search warrant in emergency terror situations where there is material that may pose a risk to the health or safety of the public.

The time available for police to re-enter a premise under a search warrant has been extended from one hour to 12 in emergencies.

The legislation also disregards a seven-day detention limit for someone arrested on suspicion of terrorism.

There is also a presumption against bail, and an expansion of the "urging violence" offence so that it applies to individuals and groups who incite violence on the basis of race, religion, ethnicity, nationality or political opinion.

The National Security Information (Criminal and Civil Proceedings) Act 2004 has been amended to speed up national security and counter-terrorism court proceedings.

The legislation also establishes a joint parliamentary committee on law enforcement to monitor the Australian Federal Police and the Australian Crime Commission.

Speaking in support of the bill, opposition legal affairs spokesman George Brandis said terrorist activities needed to be defeated at their source.

"One of the most insidious ways in which terrorism may be promoted and almost glorified is for the conduct of terrorists to be characterised as martyrdom or some other glamorous form," he said.

"Terrorism is nothing but murder."

Australian Greens legal affairs spokesman Scott Ludlam later moved a series of amendments but was shot down by both the major parties.

He unsuccessfully sought to remove the word "indirectly" from terrorist acts.

Senator Ludlam also objected to the clause about material assistance, arguing peace activists blocking a naval ship heading to war could be charged.

But the government argued legitimate protests would not be criminalised.

© 2010 AAP

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