The federal government is implementing a host of tough new anti-terrorism laws on the back of recent threats facing the country.
The nation’s terror alert level was raised from medium to high earlier this month, meaning the risk of an attack is likely, under the recommendation of security agencies.
More than a dozen anti-terrorism raids, involving more than 800 police followed, in Sydney and Brisbane last week.
The level of concern escalated even further when an 18-year-old with alleged terrorist links was shot dead by officers at a Victorian police station on Tuesday evening after stabbing two officers.
The new laws are being introduced in a bid to boost powers of security agencies their members investigating Australians who may be involved in terrorist activity.
“The very disclosure of the existence of such covert operations creates a risk. They may be compromised, and the safety of the participants and their families might be placed in jeopardy,” Attorney General George Brandis told the Senate.
So what do the new laws state:
National security laws
• Anyone – including journalists, whistleblowers and bloggers – found leaking information about a special intelligence operation faces a maximum five years in jail, and 10 years if it can be proven the person intended to endanger lives
• ASIO officers will be able to seek just one warrant to access numerous computers on a computer network when attempting to monitor a target
• When undertaking a “special intelligence operation” ASIO officers will be empowered with criminal and civil immunity from prosecution
• Australia’s overseas spy agency ASIS (Australian Secret Intelligence Service) will have the power to collect information on Australians involved in activities relating to operational security
• Enable ASIS to train individuals to use weapons and self-defence techniques
• Make it easier for ASIS to co-operate with ASIO without ministerial authorisation when undertaking intelligence collection activities
Proposed foreign fighters bill
• A new offence carrying a maximum jail penalty of five yeas for anyone “advocating terrorism’’ and for entering or remaining in a ‘’declared zone’’
• Anyone travelling to or remaining in a “declared area” where terrorist groups operate without a valid reason could face five years in jail
• Reduce the arrest threshold for terrorism offences to ‘suspects’ on reasonable grounds
• All welfare payments to be cut off for people assessed as a serious threat to Australia’s national security whose passports have been cancelled
• Amend the criteria for control orders on training grounds to include participating with a terrorist organisation