That's Queensland Premier Peter Beattie's judgement of John Howard's proposed new anti-terrorism laws. I'd certainly agree on the former. The package would allow pre-emptive detention without charge for up to two weeks, merely on suspicion of planning a terrorist act. And following in Tony Blair's footsteps, it includes a system of "control orders" allowing suspected terrorists to be subjected to electronic tagging, banned from visiting certain areas or talking to certain people, or even subjected to house arrest for a year. These would be issued in secret proceedings which defendants will not be allowed to contest, on a civil "balance of probabilities" standard. In other words, the government will be able to subject someone to house arrest - effectively imprisonment at their own expense - without ever having their "evidence" tested.
As Peter Cozens points out in the Herald today, this erodes fundamental civil liberties which have "taken centuries to develop at great sacrifice". Things like Habeas Corpus, due process, the right to a fair trial - safeguards which protect all of us from the power of the state and prevent injustices and abuses of power. And for what? "Because of its foreign policy". If the cost of Australia's foreign policy is turning that country into a police state, then I'd suggest that that foreign policy be changed.
As for "necessary", the government has not bothered to argue why these measures are required. All it has done is try and whip up fear of a terrorist attack. But as has been repeatedly pointed out, the similar system in Britain would not have prevented the London bombings, for the simple reason that the bombers were unknown to the police and intelligence services. And they would not assist in the prosecution of terrorists - Australia already has laws against belonging to, funding or supporting terrorist groups, and against murder or conspiracy to murder. All they would do is allow the government to be lazy, to run a dragnet and punish people on the basis of prejudice, paranoia and fear, without ever having to prove their case or hold their "evidence" up to proper scrutiny.
Tim Dunlop is right: this is handing the terrorists a major victory. They've managed to significantly undermine freedom in Australia, without having to use a single bomb. Osama will be pleased...