The renewal of the Terrorism (Police Powers) Act 2002 by the NSW
parliament looks certain after a review. The law allows a senior police
officer to give special powers to police that will suspend civil
liberties. This authorisation, at first, doesn’t even have to be in
Once a senior police officer is satisfied that certain conditions exist, a “target area” may be cordoned off by the use of road blocks. “Target persons” may be compelled to identify themselves, prove their identity, and have themselves and their homes and offices searched. Strip searches can take place that involve the searching of the genitals and breasts if the police officer “suspects on reasonable grounds that it is necessary to do so”. Children as young as 10 may searched.
There are no restrictions on how general an authorisation might be and any legal challenge to the authorisation is forbidden: Section 13 says that an authorisation “may not be challenged, reviewed, quashed or called into question on any grounds whatsoever before any court, tribunal, body or person”.
Agnes Chong from the Australian Muslim Civil Rights Advocacy Network told Green Left Weekly that “every person living in New South Wales should be concerned about this legislation. The potential for abuse is huge. The government has failed to demonstrate the need for this legislation in any way — especially given the existing broad federal legislation — and the community should send this message to them loud and clear through the review process.”
Public written submissions may be sent to the attorney-general’s department before February 11.
Dale Mills, Sydney
Green Left Weekly, February 2, 2005.