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Former PM: Australian Anti-terrorism Laws Threaten Civil Rights

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posted on Oct, 5 2005 @ 06:39 PM
Former Liberal Prime Minister, Malcolm Fraser, said that Australian citizens' rights are threatened by the current Liberal government's new anti-terrorism legislation, informally dubbed the "Australian Patriot Act". Mr. Fraser is participating in a drive to establish an Australian Bill of Rights, Australia being the only Western democracy without such protection. The comments were made at the launching of a draft version of the bill at the Sydney Town Hall.
The former prime minister says the common law does not protect the normal rights of Australians, and the new anti-terrorism laws threaten liberties that people take for granted.

"To be arrested under these powers - they don't say arrested, they say detained - the authorities or ASIO only needs to believe that you may know something which is relevant to something to do with terrorism," he said. "They don't have to believe that you are guilty of anything."

Mr Fraser also compared parts of the proposed new anti-terrorism legislation, agreed to by state and Commonwealth leaders last month, to South Africa's apartheid laws. "Some parts of the control orders seem to me to be very similar to the banning orders which was universally condemned in relation to apartheid in South Africa," he said.

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Mr. Fraser was a Prime Minister of the Liberal Party and had a reputation as an extreme right-winger early in his career. Since his retirement however, he has been a vocal and active opponent of the Howard (Liberal Party) government's foreign policies, most notably their support of the Bush administration.

Mr. Fraser has gained my respect for his tenacious opposition to this new, unlawful legislation, even in the face of expected loyalty to his old party, and I wish his mission all the success it deserves.

Meanwhile, the Labour Party is jumping on the anti-terrorism bandwagon, calling for the laws to be expanded even further. The Law Council of Australia however described the laws as "draconian" and "unnecessary".

Labour Leader: Anti-terrorism Laws Not Powerful Enough
Federal Opposition Leader Kim Beazley says the anti-terrorism laws agreed upon by the Commonwealth, states and territories need to be more comprehensive.

The anti-terrorism laws have also drawn criticism from Australia's legal fraternity. Law Council of Australia secretary-general, Peter Webb, says the plans to detain people for up to 14 days without charge fall outside the principles of criminal law.

"They're certainly draconian, we have no reason to believe they are necessary," he said. Mr Webb says the plans are offensive to the legal tradition.

Please visit the link provided for the complete story.

The debate is intensifying over the new anti-terrorism laws which will be drafted in the coming weeks, but state leaders have already agreed to them on principle. Mr. Fraser's tactic seems to be the most intelligent in light of the passing of the laws clearly being inevitable. Hopefully some concessions in favour of civil rights can and will be made before they are enacted.

[edit on 2005-10-5 by wecomeinpeace]

[edit on 10/12/05 by FredT]

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