Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Amending the terrorism bill II

Keith Locke's Supplementary Order Paper on the Terrorism Suppression Amendment Bill is out, and the amendments look rather interesting. In addition to omitting clauses 6 and 7 (which create the general offence of committing a terrorist act and remove the "democracy" defence for terrorist financing), he also proposes omitting clause 12 (which would change the level of intent required to be considered to be participating in a terrorist group from knowledge to mere recklessness) and making numerous changes to the designation rules (priarily, requiring the Prime Minister to take the ICCPR into account and consult with the Attorney-General on designations). More importantly, he also proposes amending the existing "disruption of infrastructure" clause in the definition of "terrorist act" to read:

serious interference with, or serious disruption to, an infrastructure facility, with the intention of endangering human life
This would ensure that the law can not be used against non-violent but disruptive protests targetted at infrastructure facilities - e.g. protestors chaining themselves to railway lines, or climbing the chimneys of a coal plant.

Finally, Locke also proposes a review, at the end of 2008, to consider the operation of the Act and whether it should be retained, repealed, or amended. That's a good idea as well - security legislation should always be temporary, and should always be monitored to ensure it is necessary and to prevent its misuse.

It will be interesting to see how many of these amendments pass, and whether the government will recognise public concerns around the bill, or whether they'll collude with National to ram it through regardless.