New, stronger counter-terrorism laws to better protect Victorians from terror attacks have now commenced.
The Justice Legislation Amendment (Terrorism) Bill 2018, the bulk of which commenced today, allows for preventative detention of terror suspects by police for up to four days, creates a presumption against bail and parole for those who pose a terrorism risk, and clarifies police powers to use lethal force.
The new laws implement key recommendations made by the Expert Panel on Terrorism and Violent Extremism Prevention and Response Powers, led by former Chief Commissioner of Police Ken Lay and former Court of Appeal Justice, the Honourable David Harper.
Police are now able to detain terror suspects without a court order or a warrant for up to four days. Children aged 14 or above may also be detained for up to 36 hours.
Previously a terrorist act had to be imminent for preventative detention to occur. These laws allow for detention to occur if a terrorist act is capable of being carried out and could occur within 14 days. Police are also able to question people subject to preventative detention.
There are now presumptions against bail and parole for people who pose a terrorism risk – not just those who have been convicted of terrorism offences. Only a court can consider bail for those posing a terrorism risk.
The new laws address 21 recommendations of the Expert Panel review, with an additional $20.9 million provided in the Victorian Budget 2018/19 to implement the review’s recommendations.
The laws also streamline the authorisation of special police powers, and create new powers to take control of premises. Special police powers include the right to search people and vehicles, enter and search premises, cordon off areas and request proof of identity.
The changes to special police powers also see Protective Service Officers (PSOs) able to work alongside police officers and to keep the community safe in the event of a terrorist incident.
The reforms also clarify Victoria Police’s powers to use lethal force in response to a life-threatening act where it may be the last opportunity to safely and effectively intervene.
These reforms deliver on the first phase of reforms recommended by Expert Panel, with work underway to progress the second phase of reforms.
As stated by Attorney-General Martin Pakula
“This is the most significant shake up of our counter terrorism laws since they were introduced. Our reforms are strengthening bail and parole laws to help keep the community safe.”
“These laws include important safeguards – such as independent oversight – and implement key recommendations of the Expert Panel.”
As noted by Minister for Police Lisa Neville
“These new laws give police the powers they need to detain terror suspects, tackle the threat of terrorism and protect the community from those who pose a significant risk to the safety of Victorians.”