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Australia passed 54 anti-terror laws post 9/11

Last Updated: Monday, July 23, 2012 - 20:33

Sydney: Australia passed 54 new anti-terror laws in the decade after the 9/11 terror attack, according to a study. The new laws formed in response to the attack even surpassed measures taken in the US, Sydney Morning Herald reports.

Most of the laws were passed under the prime ministership of John Howard, on an average a new anti-terror statute was passed nearly every seven weeks until he was defeated.

Labor in opposition supported most of the statutes, commonly running to hundreds of pages.

In the Rudd-Gillard era, from November 2007 to September 11, 2011, only six anti-terror laws were enacted. University of New South Wales` Professor George Williams, who conducted the first count undertaken of national anti-terror laws, said that the scope exceeded measures in countries facing more severe threats.

``It would be unthinkable, if not constitutionally impossible, in nations such as the US and Canada to restrict freedom of speech in the manner achieved by Australia`s 2005 sedition laws,`` he wrote.

He also cited power given to the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation to be able to detain and question ``non-suspect citizens` for up to a week as unique among comparable legal systems.

Australia has also copied many anti-terror measures from Britain without replicating equivalent safeguards such as a national human rights law. The legacy was an ``extraordinary bout of lawmaking`` in the post-9/11 decade, with many measures challenging long understood assumptions of criminal and other law, he said. Key aspects of anti-terror laws had been ``almost exclusively`` applied to members of the Muslim community and their organisations, Professor Williams said.

Since 2000, there have been four major plots disrupted in Australia and 38 people charged with terrorism offences. Of these, 23 have been convicted.


First Published: Monday, July 23, 2012 - 20:33

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