Counter-Terrorism and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2016 Speech

Posted On: 18 Aug 2016

I rise to add my contribution to the Counter-Terrorism and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2016 introduced into the House on 19 April this year by the Minister for Police, Fire and Emergency Services and Minister for Corrective Services and was referred to the Legal Affairs and Community Safety Committee for detailed consideration. The committee made the recommendation to the parliament that the bill be passed and I want to acknowledge the work of fellow committee members and of course our secretariat. The committee invited written submissions from the public and from identified stakeholders. The Department of Justice and Attorney-General provided an oral briefing on 11 May.

The introduction of this bill follows the introduction of the Counter-Terrorism and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2015, which was introduced into the House on 17 September 2015 by the honourable Jo-Ann Miller, the then minister for police, fire and emergency services and minister for corrective services. As referenced in report No. 31 by the committee, the 2015 bill proposed to extend the sunset provision of the Terrorism (Preventative Detention) Act 2005, extend the extraterritorial application of it and the Public Safety Preservation Act from three nautical miles to 200 nautical miles and extend various emergency powers under these acts so they could be exercised in other jurisdictions. The Legal Affairs and Community Safety Committee reported on the 2015 bill in November of that year, making recommendations the bill be amended to require a stand-alone report from the minister to the parliament within six months of the use of the powers under the T(PD)A, an independent review within two years and report within three years of the act’s commencement. The bill was passed with those amendments on 20 April this year.

In introducing the 2016 bill, the minister advised that Queensland’s preventative detention laws and terrorist emergency powers have never had to be used. While this is a perfect record that I am sure all honourable members would like to see continue for our state, unfortunately the reality of a terrorism attack on any scale is considered by many experts to be a case of when, not if.

Therefore, the degree of preparedness of our law enforcement and counterterrorism trained officers is paramount. Since the 2015 amendments, terrorist related attacks have continued to occur internationally, including the recent attacks in France and Belgium, which cost the lives of hundreds of innocent men, women and children. It is gut-wrenching to see so many guiltless people dying as a result of terror, being the unwitting targets in the senseless, premeditated and horrific murders of harmless victims. As politicians and legislators, we have a responsibility to ensure that Queensland is best protected against attacks of this kind. The amendments proposed in this 2016 bill will provide stronger safeguards to deal with and prevent acts of terrorism. Importantly, they will help keep Queenslanders safe.

As members have heard already from the shadow minister, the LNP is fully supportive of this bill and these amendments. The bill before us proposes to amend the Public Safety Preservation Act 1986 and the Terrorism (Preventive Detention) Act 2005 to enhance public safety through the provision of counterterrorism and emergency management powers that will enable police to rapidly and effectively respond to, manage and resolve emergencies in Queensland. The proposed amendments will, among other things, enable police to require any person or organisation to provide information during a declared emergency under specified circumstances, create an offence for refusing to provide information with penalties of up to 10 years imprisonment to apply, extend a terrorist emergency in circumstances where it is necessary to protect life or health or protect critical infrastructure, extend the power to search and seize vehicles as they leave or enter declared areas, and broaden the power for police to seize things from a person during a declared emergency to include things that a person may use to cause harm.

The amendments to the Police Powers and Responsibilities Act 2000 would enable Commonwealth intelligence agencies to apply to the Supreme Court of Queensland under the Commonwealth’s assumed identity legislation for approval to create a birth certificate for an assumed identity. The amendments to the Corrective Services Act 2006 aims to support efficiencies in operational practices relating to the delivery of health services to prisoners, the management of Corrective Services facilities and the supervision of offenders in the community.

In the last 12 months, in many places around the globe terror has raised its ugly head with shocking frequency—in Paris, Nice, Rouen, Brussels, Pakistan, Tunisia, Turkey and Marseille—but we, too, have experienced acts of terror. In December 2014, many Australians recall watching in horror and disbelief as the Sydney Lindt cafe siege unfolded. The siege began after lone gunman, Man Haron Monis, took 18 people hostage inside the Lindt cafe in popular Martin Place in Sydney. The 16-hour stand-off, which began on 15 December, resulted in two hostages, Katrina Dawson and Tori Johnson, being killed. Following this siege—that came from nowhere—it was made patently clear to all Australians that we, too, were vulnerable to terror attacks and far from immune to them.

As stated in the explanatory notes to this bill, since September 2014, nationally on our shores there has been a major escalation of terrorist related activities, with three terrorist attacks resulting in fatalities, a further six planned imminent attacks that were disrupted and 36 people charged as a result of 13 different operations relating to counterterrorism matters. It is disturbing to learn that, currently, there are 300 persons on Australia’s counterterrorism intelligence list. How many more people with evil intent have not yet been recognised and are in our midst?

I requested the Parliamentary Library to research terror attacks over the past five years and the groups that were responsible for them. I thank the Parliamentary Library for its prompt response. Owing to the large number of attacks, especially with countries at war included, it is not possible to list each attack. To give members an idea of the number, in November 2014 the BBC reported a total of 644 attacks and 5,042 deaths.

The United States data was clearer. Between 2012 and 2016, there were five terrorist related attacks, resulting in a total of 72 deaths, all with Islamist, ISIL or Al-Qaeda links. These attacks were the Boston Marathon attack in April 2013; the Garland, Texas attack on security officers in May 2015—there were no deaths in that attack—the Chattanooga attack on a US naval recruiting centre, killing five people, on 16 July 2015; the San Bernardino, California attack on 2 December 2015, where a husband and wife killed 14 guests at a Christmas party; and on 12 June, 2016 in Orlando, where 50 people were killed in a nightclub.

The reasoning for further amendments to the 2016 bill is owing to the elevated frequency of terrorism related incidents and the ever-increasing threat of low-tech lone-actor terrorism. Therefore, we must all establish our personal safety routines and take more notice of what is going on around us. That does not mean that we live in fear, or become overly suspicious of others; just that we be more aware.

Low-tech terrorism is described by Katya Drozdova PhD in her book titled Low-Tech Threats in the Hi-Tech Age: Subversive Networks Across Ideologies, Technologies, and Times as a means to target our open and increasingly high-tech society. Professor Drozdova is an assistant professor of political science in the School of Business, Government, and Economics at Seattle Pacific University.

Professor Drozdova has lectured extensively and taught courses on subjects ranging from research methods in social science to global security, strategy, history, information and political economy as well as carrying out a number of research projects in these areas. Katya has been actively involved with leading military, policy, law enforcement and business professionals in identifying mission-critical
challenges and formulating effective global responses across multiple-organisation risk areas. Her recent work and publications have dealt with issues of US national and international security, specifically addressing the problems of hybrid and asymmetric low-tech threats in the high-tech age.
Professor Drozdova reports that terrorists and other illicit organisations rely instead on relatively rudimentary means to conceal their networks and threaten national and international security interests. These tactics challenge governments’ detection and counteraction strategies built around high-tech cyber warfare components, including precision guided weaponry and electronic surveillance schemes.

This low-tech challenge to high-tech solutions relies fundamentally on human networks and allegiances. It uses civilian disguise combined with face-to-face and courier communication, cash or barter transactions and basic to crude weaponry such as box cutters, homemade explosive devices and suicide bombers to sustain terrorist operations. Such asymmetric tactics make these operations difficult to trace and prevent by use of high-tech means. Low-tech threats are often harder to disrupt as there may be less visibility of planning, little or no direct communication between organised terrorist groups or individuals and limited time between intent and action. As a result of this type of attack, police are often required to intervene early, or act on less information than would be the case in more traditional policing responses, which this additional legislation will allow.
On my home front, it was reported in the Gold Coast Bulletin on 11 September 2014 that two men in Logan had been arrested and charged with terrorism related offences, including making funds available to terrorist organisation Jabhat al-Nusra as well as recruiting another person to become a member of Islamic State to take part in hostilities in Iraq or Syria between 18 July and 5 September.

More recently, Gold Coast police have been warning locals to be vigilant and report any suspicious activity following alerts about potential terrorists targeting regional airports. On 30 January this year, the bulletin reported that prospective terrorists attempting to use international flights to the Gold Coast as a back door to our country were snared by a new counterterrorism unit at the airport. The airport, which is located in my electorate, services several million passengers every year—locals, businesspeople and tourists. The Australian National University terrorism expert, Dr Clarke Jones, says that potential terrorists were using regional airports as a way of gaining entry to the country as it was believed that smaller airports have weaker security measures. On that occasion, we proved them wrong.

With the 2018 Commonwealth Games to be held in southern Queensland, this legislation will assist us to be at the top of our game in terms of dealing with terror threats and being able to intervene early, potentially foiling any attacks that could harm our people and our enviable reputation as a safe destination. However, that reputation rests upon the success of the major event. Undoubtedly the threat of a terror attack in Australia has grown and the occurrence of such an attack at any time would be devastating, let alone during a major event that is broadcast to billions of people. As the former minister for tourism, major events, small business and the Commonwealth Games, I understand the critical importance of updating and upgrading enhanced safety and intervention measures for the purpose of protecting our community. In 2014 I was privileged to represent Queensland at the Glasgow Commonwealth Games and take part in the flag handover ceremony which was broadcast to over 1.4 billion people across the world. It was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that I cherish. I experienced firsthand planning and coordination of a major event that required intense safety measures and involved hundreds of thousands of people. It was an eye-opener to what we can expect when we host the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games. I also visited London and had security briefings from the Home Office.

As the largest sporting event in Australia in a decade the games will draw six and a half thousand athletes and team officials, as well as spectators and visitors from across the world, putting us front and centre on the world stage. When I introduced the Major Events Bill in 2014 I spoke of the significant contribution major events have on Queensland’s economy but also the need to ensure our locals and visitors alike were kept safe.

As with any legislation, but particularly when security is at stake, an individual’s basic rights and liberties—fundamental legislative principles—must be taken into consideration. The Queensland Police Service provided advice on clause 28 as to whether it provides sufficient regard to the rights and liberties of the person by providing appropriate protection against self-incrimination pursuant to section 4(3) (f) of the Legislative Standards Act 1992 and legal professional privilege, stating that when considered in its entirety clause 28 of the bill achieves an appropriate balance between protecting the rights and liberties of the individual with the protection of the broader community.

The submission goes on to say that delays caused by having to wait for legal advice to be obtained, which may be considerable prior to the provision of the information, would have dire effects on the ability for police to respond effectively to declared emergencies and counteract the intention of the legislation. Further, they have indicated that it would be possible for people who sympathise or share a common ideology with the offender to assist with achieving their criminal endeavours by delaying the giving of information through seeking legal advice. If that were to change in favour of the offender, it would be counterproductive to the objectives of the bill which, as mentioned previously, are to allow for police intervention to prevent terrorist activities.

When managing and resolving declared emergencies police would not normally have the luxury of time which they often have in other more traditional policing circumstances. Their ability to rapidly acquire information is time sensitive and critical when lives are at risk, for example during a hostage situation or in circumstances where police are trying to prevent an imminent terrorist attack from occurring.
As a government minister during the G20 Summit in Brisbane in November 2013 I was very proud to be part of an LNP government which passed the G20 (Safety and Security) Bill 2013, brought in for G20 and set to expire when the G20 was over. Despite criticisms aired in the media for enforcing strict legislation to keep world leaders, delegates and the general public safe during the G20, the bill was passed. Playing host to some of the most powerful and influential world leaders, including the President of the United States of America, Barack Obama, Xi Jinping from China, Vladimir Putin from Russia and India’s Narendra Modi, the G20 Summit raised extremely serious security risks.

Implementation of the G20 (Safety and Security) Bill ensured we had the necessary legislation to provide this level of security. The summit was considered a success and thankfully no-one was killed as a result of any attack during this highly publicised political event.

Last week I returned from a wonderful visit to the UK to meet our new grandson and spend some time with our daughter and husband. We did not stay in London, instead we toured some of the countryside. The BBC News was full of stories about the carnage caused by recent attacks in Rouen and Nice. The British government announced that 600 new terror police were to be trained. Speaking with locals, I was surprised that terrorism is expected by all. I guess with the UK on high threat alert for two years people have become accustomed to higher security. I noticed that there were no rubbish bins when out shopping and visiting cathedrals and outside tourist attractions. I was told it was because they posed a bomb threat. I was also told about the no-go areas for tourists. Literally everyone I spoke to was resigned to the fact that terrorism will continue to occur. Like many I was horrified by the murder of the elderly French priest who was conducting a service for his parishioners. Where is the sense in that: the callous, senseless murder of a saintly man going about his duties? It was therefore heartening to see a Muslim who attended the priest’s funeral telling media who were present how important it was to join together to support each other and condemn the attacks. He said that it was essential for Muslims to support Christians at times like this as we worship the same God. We need to hear and see more of this mutual respect and if more Muslims and other religions and individuals can speak of peace and understanding then hopefully fewer young people will become swayed by radicals.

We also have to stop tiptoeing around the stifling culture of political correctness. As Aussies we have a culture that is the envy of many. It is laid back, it is friendly and values freedom of speech and religion and it is worth standing up for. On 12 August 2016 respected journalist Mike O’Connor wrote an opinion piece in the Courier-Mail entitled, ‘Anti-political correctness fightback is long overdue’. O’Connor qualified his comments stating he had lived harmoniously and happily next door to a Muslim couple for eight years. He said—
I didn’t worry that they were spending their nights making bombs or sharpening knives because, like the overwhelming majority of Australians, I take people as I find them.
He goes on—
I hesitate to speak about religion and race because those commentators who do so too frequently have empty heads and hollow hearts, moral superiority oozing from every pore.
They denounce anyone not in sympathy with the view that Australians are at heart intolerant bigots as being an intolerant bigot.
It angers me. It angers me that those who see ISIS murdering and torturing and who admit to feeling threatened by Muslims are denounced as bigots.
It angers me too, Mike O’Connor. Virtually no opposition was raised towards the contents of this bill.

However, I do note that both the Greens and the Queensland Bar Association raised slight concerns regarding the extent of expanded powers and legal representation. In this House we stand united in our desire to be as well prepared for these heinous attacks as possible.

The expansion of policing and government powers in the event of a suspected or imminent terrorism attack contained within the bill
will hopefully offer greater protection for Queenslanders. Together with my LNP colleagues I am pleased to support the Counter-Terrorism and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2016.

 

Welcome from Jann

As the State Member for Currumbin since 2004 we have achieved much together to make the place we call home an even better and safer community.

It truly is an honour to serve the caring and connected residents of Currumbin.

Your thoughts and concerns matter to me and I look forward to continuing to be a strong voice on your behalf.

My electorate office staff and I are here to help you with state government issues.

Kind regards

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