Labor leader Bill Shorten has written to Prime Minister Tony Abbott to raise concerns over anti-terror laws that could see journalists jailed for up to ten years.
Mr Shorten said the laws posed a risk to Australia’s democratic freedoms, even though he agreed there was a need to beef-up national security.
In his letter, Mr Shorten said security agencies should have “all the powers they need” to keep Australians safe from terrorism.
“However, it is also important that, by legislating to address the terrorist threat, we do not ourselves destroy the very democratic freedoms that we are seeking to protect,” he says.
Legislation passed by the federal parliament in September prohibits journalists from reporting on intelligence operations and has made it illegal to “promote” or “encourage” terrorism.
While Labor backed increased powers for domestic spy agency ASIO, senior MPs such as Anthony Albanese have recently questioned provisions curtailing media reporting of intelligence operations.
The Senate on Wednesday passed the second tranche of the government’s security laws, which give spy agencies powers to crack down on home-grown foreign fighters.
The government legislation prohibits travel to terrorist hot-spots without a valid excuse and makes visiting a no-go zone punishable by 10 years in prison.
It has also introduced laws that give Australia’s foreign spies – the Australian Secret Intelligence Service – powers to better assist the defence force in its fight against Islamic State in Iraq.
A third set of laws to enable the collection of metadata is expected to be introduced next year.
– with AAP