Senate reports on anti-terror legislation

The Senate Legal and Constitutional affairs committee has tabled its report into the Howard Government's Anti-Terrorism (No 2) Bill 2005. The committee, which received 300 submissions, has made 52 recommendations, including that the schedule dealing with sedition be "removed in its entirety".

The committee went on to recommended that the Australian Law Reform Commission conduct a public inquiry into the "appropriate legislative vehicle for addressing the issue of incitement to terrorism". This inquiry would consider the need for the proposed sedition provisions as well as existing offences under other laws.

If the sedition provisions are not removed, the committee said, then the government should consider amending the legislation to, amongst other things, require a link to force or violence and to remove the phrase 'by any means whatever'.

The committee also called for a reduced sunset period for the legislation, from 10 to five years; better protection for young people aged 16 to 18; and oversight by the Commonwealth Ombudsman.

Attorney-General Philip Ruddock told ABC radio the government would consider suggestions, but said he was not prepared to remove legislative provisions "that deal with those who urge the use of force or violence against democratic institutions and others".

Mr Ruddock said the committee had proposed "alternatives" which he would look at "very seriously".

Meanwhile, the ACT government announced it would table the territory's anti-terrorism laws in December, before their referral to the Legislative Asessembly Standing Committee on Legal Affairs for report in February 2006.
And in South Australia, Premier Mike Rann urged state parliament to pass that state's new anti-terrorism laws before the Christmas break.

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