Anti-terror amendments to be rushed through Australian parliament because of new 'potential threats'

Wednesday, November 2, 2005

New terror amendments are to be rushed through Australian Federal Parliament based on new threats recently revealed by the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO). The government claimed in a media release today that it has this week received specific information about a terrorist threat to Australia.

"The Government has received specific intelligence and police information this week which gives cause for serious concern about a potential terrorist threat. The detail of this intelligence has been provided to the Leader of the Opposition and the Shadow Minister for Homeland Security," the release said.

The government claims that the new bill is intended to improve the ability of intelligence services and the police to counter this threat.

"The Government is satisfied on the advice provided to it that the immediate passage of this bill would strengthen the capacity of law enforcement agencies to effectively respond to this threat," the release said.

The opposition leader, Kim Beazley, has been briefed by the Prime Minister on the nature of the threat, and has pledged that Labor will support the amendments.

The amendments are separate to the proposed anti-terror legislation.

Some commentators noted that the nation's security alert level had not been escalated as a result of the new information and remained at "medium" and a subsequent interview with the Attorney-General, Philip Ruddock on Lateline appeared to indicate that there was in fact no information about a specific imminent threat.

Greens' Senator Bob Brown noted that there are already laws that could deal with a specific imminent threat: "Whoever these unnamed people are, they can be arrested, they can be interrogated for up to seven days, they can be charged under the current crimes act." he said.

The government has a track record of presenting misleading information to the public for political ends as in the infamous children overboard affair when refugees where vilified by ministers of the Australian government, including the Prime Minister, on the basis of false evidence.