NSWCCL launches national fightback to roll back extraordinary ASIO powers

"The greatest assault on civil liberties in Australia since World War II." Professor George Williams AO tonight launched a national campaign led by the NSW Council for Civil Liberties to wind back the excessive and disproportionate powers given to ASIO in the decade since 9/11.

Professor Williams is a leading Australian expert on anti-terrorism legislation. He left the audience in no doubt that the campaign was needed:

"The ASIO powers remain rotten at their core. They confer unprecedented powers on a secret intelligence agency that could be used against the Australian people by an unscrupulous government.

The powers are more consistent with the apparatus of a police state, such as General Pinochet’s Chile, than the laws of a modern democracy.

They have no place in Australia, should be repealed."

Australia has passed an extraordinary 54 pieces of anti-terrorist legislation. Cumulatively they have embedded in Australian law exceptional powers and sanctions that were previously considered to be anathema to liberal democracies - except in time of war. These include:
• restrictions on speech through sedition laws and new rules of censorship;
• the banning of organisations by government decree;
• control orders that can enable house arrest for up to a year;
• detention without charge or trial for up to 14 days;
• covert surveillance of non-suspects; and
• warrantless searches of private property by police officers

Professor Williams told the gathering:

"Collectively, these laws represent the greatest assault on civil liberties in Australia since World War II."


Over 350 people gathered in the CBD Sky Phoenix Restaurant to support the launch at the 49th NSWCCL Annual Dinner.

Media comments:
NSWCCL Secretary : Stephen Blanks 02 9555 8654 stephen.blanks@nswccl.org.au