The federal Opposition has raised concerns that new counter-terrorism
laws could inadvertently make it illegal for Australians to train and
fight with foreign forces.
Labor MP Duncan Kerr has told a joint Parliament Security and
Intelligence Committee the legislation does not distinguish between the
laws of war and terrorism, and he has sought clarification from the
Mr Kerr says currently Australians who serve in the armed forces of
another country, such as the Israeli Defence Forces, could be subject
to proceedings under the laws.
"There is an argument that they would fall foul of those anti-terrorism
provisions simply because they are training with a military force, and
the action of the force that they are training with is undertaken as
part of advancing the political objective of the Israeli government,"
The Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission says the new laws must face regular scrutiny.
Since the introduction of the laws in 2002 and 2003, the Australian
Federal Police have conducted 479 counter-terrorism investigations and
charged 24 people with terrorism related offences.
The commission's Joanna Hemingway told the committee the legislation needs to be reviewed at least every three to five years.
"Whether that's done by a body every three years that's comprised of
practitioners from various aspects that are touched by terrorism laws,
so for instance privacy issues human rights practitioners, security and
intelligence practitioners that yes, we do need that independent
review," she said.
The committee also heard that Muslims feel they are being deliberately targeted by the new laws.
Dr Waleed Kadous from the Australian Muslim Civil Rights Advocacy
Network says Muslims are suffering from an increased sense of
Dr Kadous says there is a perception that the laws are being tailored
to attack their communities, and many feel they are being monitored by
"This has had an impact in a number of ways," he said.
"Firstly, people self-limit their behaviour, they over-estimate the reach of the laws and are unnecessarily cautious.
"So for example we have seen people not wanting to go to normal Islamic
classes because they fear that ASIO may be watching or something like
"We have heard people telling their children not to go to protests because you are just exposing yourself once again."
ABC News , 1 August 2006