29 March 2004

PM plans new anti-terror laws

Tough new anti-terrorism laws approved by cabinet would allow police to question suspects for up to 24 hours.

The government also plans to enlarge the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO), with the spy agency recruiting an extra 150 staff.

Prime Minister John Howard said the new anti-terror laws would double the length of time police could question anyone suspected of committing a terrorist offence.

The laws would ban anyone from training with listed terrorist groups and organisations such as the Taliban, or from joining groups which were not banned but could be proved to be terrorist organisations.

It would also become unlawful for people to make money out of selling books or memoirs about any time they spent training with terrorist organisations.

Parliament has given the government pretty much whatever it wants on laws against terror. This will be the third or fourth basket of terror laws since 911. At some point the government needs to think this thing through instead of coming up with new legislation every couple of months. It is beginning to look suspiciously like the manipulation of threat levels in the US.

These proposals, subject to how they're actually drafted, do not sound unreasonable. The discovery of alleged new loopholes every few months does.

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