'Anti-terror' laws slammed


Speakers at a meeting of 100 people at the Fitzroy Town Hall on November 15 slammed the "anti-terror" laws.

Adam Bandt, the Greens candidate for the seat of Melbourne, said that the suspension of fundamental rights is "increasingly the norm", pointing to the Northern Territory intervention and the Australian Building and Construction Commission as well as the "anti-terror" laws.

Julian Burnside QC argued that the anti-terror laws are unnecessary, since previous legislation was adequate to prosecute people planning terrorist attacks. He said that the new laws throw away gains won centuries ago in the fight against tyranny. For example, preventative detention orders and control orders can be obtained in secret hearings at which the accused are not allowed to know the evidence against them.

Lisa Farrance, from Civil Rights Defence, which organised the meeting, pointed out the contrast between the sensational allegations of "imminent" terrorist attacks made at the time of the arrests of the "Barwon 13" (a group of Muslim men who have now spent two years in jail awaiting trial on terrorism charges), and the actual charges. These make no mention of any plans to attack any specific targets. She called for the complete repeal of the anti-terror laws.