The Andrews Labor Government will introduce a suite of far reaching new laws to protect Victorians from terror attacks as part of the biggest overhaul of counter-terror laws since they were first introduced.
Earlier this year, the Government commissioned a root and branch review – led by former Chief Commissioner of Police Ken Lay and former Supreme Court of Appeal Justice, the Honourable David Harper – of the laws currently available to prevent, monitor and respond to acts of terror.
The first report from the Panel contains 16 recommendations covering the use of force, investigative and preventative detention, presumptions against bail and parole, special police powers during declared events and the protection of criminal intelligence.
The Government has accepted in-principle all recommendations, with the Panel due to deliver its second report in the coming weeks.
As part of the sweeping reforms, Victoria Police’s powers to use lethal force when responding to life threatening situations will be clarified. The recommended new measures also include:
- Changes to the preventative detention order framework to give Victoria Police new powers to question a person in relation to a terrorist act, double the period of interim detention from 2 days to 4 days, and remove the need for police to seek a court order before the period of interim detention starts
- Ensuring Protective Services Officers are equipped to work alongside police officers to keep the community safe in the event of a terrorist incident
- Amending parole laws to include a presumption against parole for offenders with links to terrorism
- Amending Victoria’s bail laws to include a presumption against bail for accused persons with links to terrorism
The Panel also made recommendations relating to information sharing between Victoria and the Commonwealth, including between members of the Victorian Joint Counter Terrorism Team and security cleared Corrections Victoria staff.
These recommendations will be discussed at the upcoming Council of Australian Governments meeting in October. The Government expects to introduce legislation into Parliament in early 2018.
Quotes attributable to Premier Daniel Andrews
“We said we would do whatever it takes to keep Victorians safe from terror – and that’s exactly what these tough new powers will do.”
“Recent incidents in Barcelona, London, the Brighton siege and the Lindt Café siege show the threat from terror is all too real – and we must act to make sure we have the strongest powers and laws in place to protect Victorians.”
Quotes attributable to Minister for Police Lisa Neville
“We need to ensure that when police are in a life or death terrorist situation, they know they can use lethal force if required, without hesitation.”
Quotes attributable to Attorney-General Martin Pakula
“This is the biggest shake up to our counter terrorism laws since they were first introduced. These reforms will clarify police powers and further strengthen bail and parole laws to help keep the community safe from terror.”
Reviewed 19 August 2020