Statutes Amendment (Terrorism) Bill

The Hon. T.T. NGO: While this bill is relatively short and simple, it is an important one. This bill extends the operation of two acts that are of great assistance to police when responding to an imminent terrorist threat. The secure environment today is different when compared to when the acts were introduced in 2005. The threat of Al Qaida has been replaced with the threat of Islamic State or Daesh. Islamic State has used the internet and social media to reach out to people in countries, such as Australia, who are at risk of being influenced by a violent and fundamentalist world view. This has made the challenge of responding to Islamic State more difficult, as it is harder to identify those who would cause our community harm.

While the acts have not yet been used in South Australia, the corresponding acts in both New South Wales and Victoria have been used. The powers that these acts provide are intended to be used in very rare circumstances, and thankfully South Australia has so far been spared the terrible events and threats that have affected other states. The fact that these events are rare, and the fact that the use of acts such as these are rare, shows that the powers given to police have not been misused or overutilised.

The concerns about civil liberties, which were raised when these acts were originally introduced, have therefore been shown to be largely unsubstantiated. I commend the bill to the council and hope that it receives a speedy passage through this place to ensure that our police continue to have the tools they need to prevent and respond to threats to the safety of our community. I commend the bill.

The Hon. K.L. VINCENT: I speak today in support of the second reading of this bill. I thank the government for providing a briefing and appreciate the amendments my colleagues the Hon. Andrew McLachlan and the Hon. Mark Parnell have brought to improve this bill. I say at this point that Dignity for Disability will be supporting the Hon. Mr Parnell’s amendments, as we believe review of significant powers such as these is important for accountability, and I would hope we all consider accountability important in this place.

I know the government will say that it is an overly onerous burden for laws that are rarely used, and in fact have never been used, never been invoked in South Australia, as I understand it, but surely that makes them all the more easy to review. Accountability is important when laws such as these could, if used, possibly infringe upon civil liberties to such an extent. With those brief words, we will support the second reading and the amendments of the Hon. Mr Mark Parnell.