The Government is trying to introduce new legislation that would make it illegal to meet or communicate with a person who is a member of a terrorist organisation, with a penalty of three years. The law is being reviewed by a Senate Committee. YOU can make a submission that will have an impact on this legislation; but you must move quickly. Submissions close 8 July 2004. All the info you need, as well as a pro forma submission, can be found below.
The most worrying part about the Bill is the introduction of a new offence for ‘meeting’ or ‘communicating’ with a person who is a member of an organisation that the government has proscribed as a terrorist organisation. This offence has a maximum penalty of 3 years imprisonment.
This bill is so bad that even some members of the Liberal Party are opposed to it. It is especially dangerous combined with the new bail provisions that mean that bail is granted only under exceptional circumstances. This means innocent people could spend years in jail until they are found innocent.
The other provisions of the law would:
- grant to the authorities the power to prevent people from leaving Australia even before an ASIO warrant has been issued against them
- grant to the authorities the power to seize foreign passports from suspects
- allow the Attorney General to transfer convicted and remand prisoners to another state ‘in the interest of security’
- intrude into the privacy of citizens by allowing investigators to access the National Criminal Investigation DNA database in the event of a domestic mass casualty incident
We have a very small window of opportunity to oppose the introduction of this new law. The Parliament has referred the Bill to a Senate Committee inquiry and we have until the 8 July 2004 to make submissions to the Committee to voice our opposition to this Bill. This is less than 12 days away. We urge every person to write to the Committee to oppose this Bill as it will have a devastating effect on the civil rights of people in this country.
The Prophet (SAWS) said: "He who amongst you sees something abominable should modify it with the help of his hand; and if he has not strength enough to do it, then he should do it with his tongue, and if he has not strength enough to do it, (even) then he should (abhor it) from his heart, and that is the least of faith." Here we are being given the opportunity to modify something abominable; should we not take the opportunity?
Writing to the committee is very easy. You can even do it by e-mail (see below for contact details). It doesn’t have to be formal or legalistic. We have even drafted a pro-forma letter, in consultation with the Civil Rights Network and the Canberra Islamic Centre, that you can use as is, or cut, copy and paste to suit your needs.
Alternatively, you can write your own. So all you need to do is add your address, sign it and send it. If you are e-mailing your submission, please include your name, phone number, and postal address so the committee can verify it. It will take you only a few minutes, and it could prevent many innocent people from being imprisoned.
We have prepared two versions of the pro-forma letter, one designed for Muslims with a Muslim focus available from AMCRAN, and one for non-Muslims so you can forward it to your non-Muslim friends.
The Muslim-centric version: Word HTML
The general version (also available from Civil Rights Network): Word HTML
Note: You do not need to be scared about making a submission. Submissions are protected by parliamentary privilege. It is an offence for anyone to try to stop you from making a submission by threats or intimidation. If it an offence for anyone to harass you or discriminate against you because you have made a submission.
The government has given us less than 2 weeks to respond. Act now! Make a submission to the Senate Inquiry by 8 July 2004 by e-mail, fax or letter:
Senate Legal and Constitutional Committee
Room S1.61, Parliament House
Canberra ACT 2600
Telephone: (02) 6277 3560
Fax: (02) 6277 5794
If you would like to find out more about the Senate Committe inquiry, read the bill and the explanatory memorandum etc, visit here.
If you would like to read about how to make a submission, visit here.
If you have any other inquiries please feel free to e-mail us at email@example.com.