By Rhanda Taouk
The Federal and State Governments in Australia are increasingly focused on measures to counter an ‘evolving terrorist threat’. In NSW, for example, the Terrorism Legislation Amendment (Police Powers and Parole) Bill 2017 (NSW) was introduced in June 2017 in response to recommendations made by the ‘State Coroner of NSW Inquest into the deaths arising from the Lindt Café – Findings and Recommendations’ (Inquest report). Coroner Michael Barnes recommended that the Government consider legislative changes to ensure that police have the necessary protections to resolve terrorist incidents in a manner most likely to minimise risk to the public (recommendation 24; p. 324). The Premier announced that the legislation was to provide certainty for police to use lethal force against terrorists.
In October 2017, the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) agreed that a number of measures be implemented as part of a nationally-consistent approach to prevent the threat of terrorism. These included changes to Commonwealth legislation, including a new Commonwealth offence for those who possess instructional terrorist material, a specific ‘terrorism hoax offence’ to deter hoaxes which have the potential to cause significant alarm and disruption to the community, and the enhancement of the existing commonwealth pre-charge detention regime under Part 1C of the Crimes Act 1914 (Cth).
The COAG also noted that progress had been made in States’ respective High Risk Terrorist Offenders schemes, in which such offenders may be detained after the completion of their sentences. Relevantly, on 30 November 2017, the NSW Government assented to the Terrorism (High Risk Offenders) Bill 2017 (NSW), complementing the existing Commonwealth scheme (which was outlined in Emma Bayley’s post in December 2016). An exploration of the latest amendments is however beyond the scope of this post.
This post, however, focuses on a change COAG recommended be implemented at a State Government level, namely a presumption against bail for persons who have demonstrated support, or have links to, terrorist activity. Focusing on NSW, this post considers the change may go too far and deviates from the purpose of bail, which is to preserve the innocence of the accused (and balance liberty against community and safety considerations) until they are formally tried. Continue reading “Countering Terrorism Will Lead to More Bail Reforms”