Liberty Victoria today said the Federal Government’s foreshadowed plans to reverse the onus of proof for Australians visiting so called “terror hotspots” are unwarranted.
The Government wants people who travel to hotspots abroad to prove they are not terrorists or are not going to join the conflict. Liberty Victoria said the approach is arbitrary and unfair and that hundreds of people may be placed in a reverse onus position merely by visiting family, working in humanitarian aid programs or as journalists, or by undertaking business. Under the Government’s plans suspicion would fall on Australian citizens without a proper foundation being established.
Many of the scores of anti-terror laws rushed through since 2001 already undermine freedoms and fundamental principles of the rule of law and are due for careful and considered parliamentary review. Many have not been used. “We do not need more faulty laws,” said Liberty Victoria President, Jane Dixon QC.
Question marks also hang over a hugely expensive plan to force internet companies to keep metadata, a proposal which has not been adopted by earlier governments and recently has been brought into question in other parts of the world such as the USA.
Jane Dixon QC stated “This is yet another attack on people’s freedom and needs to be resisted. No proof has been offered to support the need for such a drastic step.”
“What we are seeing is a constant ratcheting of truly extraordinary laws that breach foundational legal safeguards. It is for the Government to properly establish how conferring ever-increasing power upon executive agencies is necessary and proportionate. Appeals to rhetoric about ‘Team Australia’ and anecdotal accounts by those who want ever increasing power does not provide a proper basis for such astonishing laws”.
For comment please contact Liberty Victoria President, Jane Dixon QC.