Attorney General Brandis is planning on introducing new legislation to Federal Parliament to amend the control order anti-terrorism laws. This is being done in consultation with State and Territory governments and has been planned since June 2015. However,  after the shooting of police worker, Curtis Cheng, in Parramatta there has been renewed and urgent discussion of the appropriate legal and social responses to the threat of terrorism.

This media mash-up gathers together some of these discussions:

The Institute’s Vice-President Malcolm Stewart, responded to reports of the NSW Premier calling for an increase to the time a terrorism suspect could be detained under terrorism laws. Mr Stewart said in the Australian newspaper that it was:

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Rule of Law Institute Vice-President, Malcolm Stewart

“absolutely ridiculous” to extend to 28 days the time that authorities could detain and question suspects without charge, as Mr Baird had proposed.
“It’s ridiculous to think of someone being locked up for 28 days without charge,” he said.
“This is Australia, this is NSW, we do not do that sort of thing … The moment you make it 28 days, everyone is going to take their foot off the pedal.”

Attorney General Brandis said regarding the use of control orders that:

“As the threat evolves so will our response.”

The ABC sets out the key aspects of the debate and also includes an explainer on what control orders are and how they work.

Bret Walker SC, appearing on the ABC television show Lateline, discussed the prospect of 14 year olds being subject to control orders:

The safeguards that are in the present law for control orders are as good as, I think, can sensibly be expected. The Australian legislation is thorough and there are multiple levels of scrutiny. That, I think, is not the problem.

The question is whether or not as a matter of policy the social cost we unquestionably suffer when we expose 14-year-olds to the possibility of a control order is worth it for a benefit. Now, that I really don’t know the answer to. I don’t think it’s easy to say there’s no cost-benefit favourable balance, but equally, I can’t see the demonstration for it either.

Former NSW Director of Public Prosecutions, Nicholas Cowdery AM QC, said to the ABC regarding the prospect of more anti-terrorism laws:

“We don’t need more laws. We already have more in this area than any other developed western country”

“We need to be very careful to balance appropriately the measures adopted for public protection and the human rights of members of the community in the laws enacted and in the way they are enforced.”

The Sydney Morning Herald Editorial of the 13th October highlights some of the key issues with changes in the legislation and also points out:

… some analysts argue with all good intention that Australia has gone too far already in reducing individual rights in response to a disproportionately small terrorist threat.

David Wroe and Richard Willingham in The Age discuss aspects of the proposed legislation, in particular, the withholding of sensitive information from people that are subject to control orders.

It is understood that under the changes, the AFP could ask the judge to withhold some evidence from the subject of the order if it is deemed highly sensitive.