Terror laws treat us all as suspects

IN a world where social media and media personalities dictate the ideological beliefs of most people, it is disappointing the general population is unaware of the laws they must follow.

After the September 11 attacks, legislation was rushed through parliament to protect us from this new and almost unforeseen threat.

What is most alarming about this legislation was most of the offences of terrorism already existed — murder, assault, sedition, treason, just to name a few.

The main negative outcomes of these laws were the introduction of preventative detention and control orders which allowed an accused to be held for 48 hours, and those which allowed the federal police to restrict the movement of an accused for 12 months.

These laws were mainly introduced to fight terrorism, which is arguably justifiable; however, what is most concerning is control orders have now been expanded to combat outlaw motorcycle clubs.

The reason this is all so significant is the Abbott government is planning to make an amendment to the anti-terror laws, to allow phone companies to store up to two years of metadata, which includes our phone calls and emails.

The common everyday response to these laws is “I do not care, I have nothing to hide”.

That might be true, but by collecting everyone’s metadata, these laws will arguably treat every Australian citizen as a suspect.

These laws are essentially legalising what the National Security Agency obtained illegally from their citizens in the US.

The police already have the power to apply to a magistrate for a warrant, which at least justifies a reasonable suspicion, in order to listen to phone calls and check emails.

It seems fitting to end with the quote of Lord Acton — “power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men.”

Are these new laws vital?

I am not so sure.

— MICHAEL MURPHY,

Thurgoona

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