new asio laws mean new secret police force

Thursday, 26 June 2003 NSWCCL media release: 14/2003


The NSW Council for Civil Liberties condemed the decision last night, by the Senate, to pass controversial new ASIO powers that will allow the indefinite detention and questioning of ordinary innocent Australians. 

NSWCCL President, Mr Cameron Murphy, said: -- 

“These new powers are absolutely the worst in Australia's history in terms of allowing the violation of people's basic rights and liberties .” 

“Commonwealth legislators should hang their heads in shame for allowing ASIO the legal power to kidnap and interrogate ordinary innocent Australians.” 

"ASIO will now be legally able to operate just like the KGB." 

“The focus of these New ASIO powers will clearly be against innocent non-suspects such as journalists, religious figures, doctors, teachers or charity workers who, during their work, inadvertently come into contact with a person that ASIO wants to know about. They will be arrested and interrogated - forced to break their confidentiality or go to jail." 

“ASIO will now be able to arrest innocent people, in the dead of night, and hold them for questioning indefinitely, without even their family knowing their whereabouts.” 

“These powers go much further than anything either contemplated, or in place, in the United States or the United Kingdom." 

"In the US and UK they have human right laws, or a bill of rights, to protect people against abuses of power such as these, unfortunately we do not, and therefore we have no real safeguards." 

“The safeguards worked into the legislation by the opposition and minor parties are admirable, and much better than the original powers proposed, but it is the powers themselves that are the problem. However these laws are dressed up, they will still be reprehensible and wrong." 

“There is no place in a democratic nation like Australia for powers like these. These are exactly the sort of powers that were used against citizens in apartheid South Africa, Soviet Russia, Pinochet's Chile and other repressive regimes." 

“Ultimately, these powers will do more damage to our democracy than any terrorist threat could ever hope to inflict."

For further information contact: 

Cameron Murphy, NSWCCL President: 0411 769 769