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Australian anti-terrorism legislation, 2004


Australian anti-terrorism legislation, 2004

Part of a series on
Terrorism in Australia

Notable attacks
Notable plots



Three anti-terrorism bills were enacted in the Australian Parliament in 2004 by a Coalition government with the Labor opposition's support. These were the Anti-terrorism bill, 2004, the Anti-terrorism bill (No 2), 2004 and the Anti-terrorism bill (No 3), 2004.


  • Anti-terrorism bill, 2004 1
  • Anti-terrorism bill (No 2), 2004 2
  • Anti-terrorism bill (No 3), 2004 3
  • Criticisms of the legislation 4
  • See also 5
  • External links 6

Anti-terrorism bill, 2004

The Attorney-General, Philip Ruddock, introduced the Anti-terrorism bill, 2004 on 31 March. He described it as "a bill to strengthen Australia's counter-terrorism laws in a number of respects – a task made more urgent following the recent tragic terrorist bombings in Spain." He said that Australia's counter-terrorism laws "require review and, where necessary, updating if we are to have a legal framework capable of safeguarding all Australians from the scourge of terrorism."

The provisions of this bill were:

  • To extend the fixed investigation period (that is, the period for which a suspect can be questioned before being either charged or released) under part 1C of the Crimes Act for investigations into suspected terrorism offences, from four hours to 24 hours. Any such extension would have to be authorised by a magistrate or other judicial officer.
  • To permit law enforcement agencies to reasonably suspend or delay questioning of a person suspected of committing a terrorism offence to make overseas inquiries to obtain information relevant to that terrorism investigation.

Ruddock said that the government recognised the need to "ensure that appropriate safeguards are put in place to maintain the balance between security and individual rights and freedom." Existing safeguards in part 1C of the Crimes Act continue to apply to terrorist suspects being investigated in accordance with the Crimes Act regime. These safeguards include:

  • A suspect's right to communicate with a legal practitioner, friend or relative, an interpreter or a consular office
  • A suspect's right to remain silent
  • Requiring the tape recording of any admissions or confessions made by a suspect as a pre-condition for admissible evidence, and
  • A suspect's right to a copy of recorded interviews.

The bill amended the Crimes (Foreign Incursions and Recruitment) Act to make it an offence for a person to commit hostile activities while serving in any capacity in or with the armed forces of a foreign state.

The bill also amended the Criminal Code to make it an offence for a person to be a member of an organisation found by a court to be a terrorist organisation, and gave the government the power to prescribe organisations for the purposes of the act. A further amendment to section 102.5 of the Criminal Code introduced new offences of providing training to or receiving training from a terrorist organisation.

Finally, the bill amended the Proceeds of Crime Act to extend the operation of the Act to foreign indictable offences beyond proceeds derived in Australia, to also cover proceeds that have been derived elsewhere and then subsequently transferred to Australia. The bill defined "foreign indictable offence" will include an offence triable by a military commission of the United States under a specified military order.

The bill was referred to the Senate Legal and Constitutional Committee, which recommended some amendments to strengthen safeguards in the bill. The opposition Australian Labor Party then indicated that it would support the bill if it were amended in accordance with the Committee's recommendations.

The bill was passed by the House of Representatives without opposition on 13 May. In the Senate the government accepted most, but not all, of the Committee's amendments. The bill was eventually passed by the Senate with the support of the Opposition on 24 June. The Australian Democrats, the Australian Greens and independent Senator Meg Lees opposed the bill in the Senate.

Anti-terrorism bill (No 2), 2004

Ruddock introduced the Anti-terrorism bill (No 2), 2004 on 17 June. This bill amended a number of pieces of legislation to bring them into conformity with the Anti-Terrorism Act described above.

  • The bill amended the Criminal Code under the Crimes Act to make it an offence to "intentionally associate with a person who is a member or who promotes or directs the activities of a listed terrorist organisation where that association provides support that would help the terrorist organisation to continue to exist or to expand." Current list of terrorist organisations.

"Under the new offence," Ruddock said, "what must be proved is that the person communicates or meets directors, members or promoters of a listed terrorist organisation and in doing so provides support intended to assist the expansion or continued existence of the organisation."

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