Australia begins to awaken to the fact that it, too, is at war. From Reuters, with thanks to Nicolei:
Australia will be able to slap instant bans on “terror groups” not listed by the United Nations Security Council and without parliament’s approval after the main opposition party yesterday dropped two years of resistance.
The new powers will allow Attorney-General Philip Ruddock to immediately issue bans if needed.
The national parliament then has 15 days to overturn the move.
Under Australia’s counter-terrorism laws, beefed up after the Sept 11, 2001, attacks on the United States, anyone belonging to, training, funding or recruiting members for a banned “terrorist group” can be jailed for up to 25 years.
The main opposition Labour party and other minor parties had resisted extending the attorney-general’s powers to outlaw organisations, fearing it could lead to the abolition of many parties without terror links who oppose the government.
That is a legitimate concern. If it happens, the law should be scrapped. But the present climate provides ample justification for enabling governments to act quickly.
Ruddock welcomed Labour’s support for the toughened law.
“To get to a point where we have reasonable power that does enable the government to act quickly is only sensible,” Ruddock told parliament.
Labour’s homeland security spokesman Robert McClelland said extending the attorney-general’s powers was now justified in the context of the international community’s fight against terror.
The Criminal Code Amendment (Terrorist Organisation) Bill was due to pass through parliament’s upper house, the Senate yesterday.