Since September 11, 2001, over 50 pieces of anti-terror legislation have been introduced to Parliament. Many of those laws contain measures that run contrary to established notions of criminal justice. Many of those laws were rushed through parliament but have never or very rarely been used. In short, Australia has been left with a legacy of flawed and unnecessary legislation.
The Law Council has been at the forefront of public debate on national security legislation. In the face of emotive and populist arguments for tough action, the Law Council has consistently demanded that new laws should:
- only be introduced where there is a demonstrated gap in existing laws;
- be consistent with Australia's international human rights obligation and only infringe on rights and freedoms to the extent necessary to protect the Australian community; and
- contain inbuilt safeguards to protect against the arbitrary or unjust exercise of Executive power.
Unfortunately, the Law Council's advocacy in this area has met with only limited success.
For that reason, review and reform of Australia's anti-terror laws remains an ongoing priority for the Law Council.