INDUSTRIAL AND OTHER LEGISLATION AMENDMENT (APEC PUBLIC HOLIDAY) BILL 2007
Debate resumed from 21 June 2007.
Ms SYLVIA HALE
[2.45 p.m.]: Prior to the debate being adjourned I was outlining to the House the three grounds on which the Greens oppose the APEC Meeting (Police Powers) Bill. First, the bill gives to the police powers that are disproportionate to the risk the city faces; second, that these new powers are not subject to judicial review and represent an increase in the discretionary powers available to the police; and, third, the bill dramatically diminishes the ability of citizens to engage in political and legitimate protest. The Greens do not oppose the cognate bill, the Industrial and Other Legislation Amendment (APEC Public Holiday) Bill.
On the last occasion I was referring to the power created by the APEC Meeting (Police Powers) Bill for the Commissioner of Police to create a list of excludable persons who will be barred from entering the APEC security zone. There is no requirement in the bill for a person to be notified that he or she is on the list. There is no restriction on the publication of the list, nor is there a requirement that it be published. There is no judicial review or right of appeal if a person objects to being placed on such a list. The exclusion list is a device created to intimidate people who may wish to attend a protest rally during the APEC summit. It is designed to discourage demonstrations by instilling uncertainty and fear into anyone who may be considering attending a lawful demonstration. Its purpose is to stigmatise all those who wish to exercise their democratic right to dissent as being, by inference, inherently violent and subversive of public order. It is about avoiding international embarrassment for both the State and Federal governments. It is not about maintaining security.
The very idea of allowing the police to create secret lists of political activists is dangerous. It has been tried before and has failed. We used to have police special branches throughout the country collecting information and keeping secret files on Australian citizens. Look at how that played out. The South Australian Special Branch, for example, was the subject of a judicial inquiry initiated by the South Australian Labor Government led by Don Dunstan. A paper entitled "Wayward Governance: Illegality and Its Control in the Public Sector," written by a leading criminologist and an Australian National University professor, Paul Graboski—which was published by the Australian Institute of Criminology—gives an outline of what the judicial inquiry discovered when it examined the South Australian Special Branch. Professor Graboski noted:
What Special Branch did was collect information about various individuals and groups in South Australia. Whilst their guidelines were not explicit, Special Branch officers were concerned with Communist and related organisations, and other activities which they [the Special Branch] regarded as extremist or subversive.
Although it relied primarily on newspaper accounts, Special Branch also received information from police in the course of normal duties, and engaged agents who infiltrated target groups and reported back to Special Branch. Special Branch was the primary point of liaison between the South Australian police and ASIO, the federal government's counter-intelligence organisation.
By 1977, the amount of information which Special Branch had amassed was considerable. It held about 3,000 separate dossiers and over 40,000 index cards. Individual persons were the subject of some 28,500 cards. Aside from the existence and scope of such a surveillance system, its most significant characteristic was its political bias. There were extensive files on Labor Party parliamentarians including some evidence that, from time to time, they were under physical surveillance at public meetings. All but two of the state and federal Labor parliamentarians were in Special Branch files. The proportion of Liberal parliamentarians who were the subject of files was much less than half.
Files were kept on the leaders of the trade union movement and on individual unions. There were cards on judges, magistrates, and at least one former governor of South Australia. Even religious leaders were under surveillance ? Even prayer meetings for peace were watched and recorded ? Other causes whose exponents had aroused sufficient suspicion within Special Branch to warrant systematic attention included women's liberation, the anti-apartheid movement, and a group favouring reform of South Australia's divorce laws. Material on conservatives and their causes, not to mention right-wing extremists, was relatively rare.
That is what the special inquiry found when it looked at South Australia, and similar situations prevailed in other States, including New South Wales. One has to ask: Has the Labor Party learnt nothing from history? The Labor Party, through leading figures such as Don Dunstan and Lionel Murphy, fought long and hard to get rid of this sort of secretive, political targeting by State and Federal police and security forces. Yet we now have the bill presented by a Labor Government that re-establishes those same sorts of secretive lists and files that a former generation of Labor leaders fought so hard to stop. Is the modern Labor Party now so comfortably ensconced in the bosom of the establishment that it thinks it will not be targeted by secret police files? Or is Labor feeling that because it is in power the police will only do the surveillance that Labor wants? If so, that is a very foolish and dangerous assumption. As the Institute of Criminology paper points out:
The South Australian Police concealed the extent of political surveillance in which its officers were engaged on at least three different occasions between 1970 and 1977. The circumstances were to culminate in the dismissal of a police commissioner.
That is what happened in South Australia. Our own history shows us that if you give police these sorts of discretionary secret powers, the Government is unable to control how they are used. Some members may ask themselves: Does any of this matter? In a post-9/11 world is it not all justified? The Greens say that it does matter. The events of 9/11 cannot be used to justify something that we know from our history will cause harm to many innocent individuals. In his report into the South Australian Special Branch, Justice White said:
Material which I know to be inaccurate, and sometimes scandalously inaccurate, appears in some dossiers and on some cards. Some of this information appears to have been used in "vetting" procedures. I have seen a number of cards where information, patently false to my own knowledge, has been used to the attempted disadvantage of certain persons.
To knowingly re-establish such a credited system of secret police files and lists is reckless and disgraceful. It is for that reason that I will be moving to delete the "exclusion list" from the bill. However, the exclusion list is not the only problematic part of the bill. In addition, the bill limits the liability of police for actions in nuisance; makes it an offence to enter restricted areas without justification, with a maximum penalty of six months imprisonment or two years imprisonment if the person entering an area has a "prohibited item", such as a can of spray paint; extends the sunset clause for covert searches under the Terrorism (Police Powers) Act 2002; reverses the onus of proof; and dispenses in many instances with the need for police to apply for search warrants. The bill also states that persons who do not obey police directions can be removed from a declared area.
The Greens understand that terrorism is a threat and that appropriate security arrangements are required during the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit. But this bill is an overreaction. The police already have sufficient powers to ensure public safety, to protect visiting dignitaries and to thwart any actual terrorist threat. It is perfectly clear that many people are intensely unhappy about what is happening in the world today. They want to make their views known, for example, about the ongoing war in Iraq or the appalling stance of the governments of the United States of America and Australia on climate change. They may wish to protest against the repression of human rights in the Russian Federation or China. Expressing such views through peaceful protest is a legitimate democratic right, and it should not be undermined by a climate of fear and the use of repressive laws.
In this bill fear clouds judgment and legitimate protest is repressed. Laws expanding police powers have usually been introduced in response to law and order stories in the popular press or to a specific incident. The excuse in this case is the gathering of overseas leaders in Sydney. The Greens are not the only people who argue that the powers envisaged in this bill are excessive. On 15 June the Sydney Morning Herald's
legal commentator, Richard Ackland, commented in his column on the impending legislation, remarking:
It is likely to leave right-minded people utterly speechless.
He also noted:
When you look at the masses of existing law giving the law enforcers ample power to control human movement and gatherings, you wonder what this inflated police state legislation is all about.
Similarly, other outside observers have also cautioned about curtailing the essential freedoms in a democracy. Brian Martin, Professor of Technology and Science at the University of Wollongong and coordinator of the Citizen Advocacy Network, has made some relevant points. He notes that redefining those who might be dissenters can make them potential threats. As Professor Martin points out:
Challenging the status quo is a difficult business. Dominant groups have various ways to limit the effectiveness of challengers, including promoting a narrow conception of "acceptable protest" ? and, if necessary, using repression. The very idea of "protest" should be considered suspect, because it diverts attention away from the routine activities of powerful groups.
Similarly, Clive Hamilton, the Executive Director of the Australia Institute and author of two bestsellers, Growth Fetish
, in his latest work, Silencing Dissent
, has highlighted another significant point, namely, that in a democracy any government that claims to support freedom of speech and freedom of choice should not try to preclude certain kinds of speech and choices, simply because they might be unacceptable to the government. It is a pity that the former President of this House, Dr Meredith Burgmann, is not here today to inform the House about the way in which police powers were used in the past to stop her making legitimate protests on issues such as the apartheid regime in South Africa. History also warns us against listening too closely to those who wish to expand police powers in a democracy. We would do well to reflect on another time when there was a push to greatly increase police powers. It was just over half a century ago, a time of police informers and agent provocateurs, and the then Attorney General was pushing through legislation expanding police powers. He informed Parliament that society faced a grave threat and that "remedial legislation is an urgent necessity to combat the evil". It was the Commissioner of Police of the day, Colin Delaney, who informed the country what were the two great menaces facing Australia at that time. They were communism and homosexuality. There might even be members in this Chamber today considering the implications of what might have happened to them if such legislation had been passed.
In concluding, I refer members again to the work of Professor Grabosky, one of this country's leading and most internationally respected writers and researchers in the area of criminology, policing and public policy. Professor Grabosky makes the point that freedom of expression and freedom of association are among the most fundamental values of a liberal society, and that the uninhibited exchange of ideas is a hallmark of democratic political life. He points out that thought and the discussion of public issues may be suppressed explicitly through censorship or outright prohibitions of public assembly but it may be inhibited more subtly. The mere possibility that a person's movements and words are or might become the subject of police attention may be enough to discourage a person from exercising his or her rights and responsibilities as the citizen of a democratic society. Professor Grabosky says in his paper:
A healthy democracy requires that the expression of contending viewpoints be encouraged. But under a system of state surveillance, the cost of dissenting may be such that some citizens will exclude themselves from public life. The uncertainty of whether or not one is under surveillance may erode the sense of self and sense of autonomy, which are requisites of active citizenship. In a society where surveillance is undertaken on any significant scale, a climate of suspicion is created, trust, the central element of the social fabric, is weakened. Clandestine surveillance and records thereof pose other threats as well. Malicious accusation or merely erroneous recording practices may result in false information being kept on a person. Secret files and their keepers are not accountable. They are not accessible to their subjects for review and possible correction.
The point Professor Grabosky is making and with which the Greens concur is that we should all be very wary of giving up our freedoms: freedom of association, freedom of expression and freedom to dissent. These are all essentials of a true democracy and we give them away at our peril.
Mr IAN COHEN
[3.02 p.m.]: I support the comments of Ms Sylvia Hale, who led for the Greens on the APEC Meeting (Police Powers) Bill. This is an extremely important piece of legislation, in a negative sense. While everybody is talking about the strong legislative response to the perceived threat of disruption and/or terrorism at the upcoming APEC meeting in September, it is worth noting that there has been an equally strong response from civil society about the parallel issue of public participation from people in the community who are concerned about their legitimate right to assemble in proximity to these meetings to express a dissenting point of view.
Greens members of Parliament have spoken and will speak on the need to ensure the safety of the visiting APEC leaders. Of course, this is important and integral to the success APEC. They have also spoken of the Government's duty to balance that safety with the fundamental democratic right to peaceful protest. Experience in this State shows that at times the police have had very little tolerance for demonstrations against politicians. This issue cuts straight to the heart of what it means to live in a democracy and the very meaning of participatory democracy. We are now living in the climate century, as my fellow member Dr John Kaye has dubbed it. Many issues will be discussed at APEC, but climate change is the issue of our time and it is on the meeting agenda. Politicians from the major parties have clearly established that they are unwilling and unable to deal with the threat of dangerous climate change. Many passionate people in our country are able and willing to lead politicians towards climate solutions. Access to public space adjacent to the APEC meeting is fundamental to the ability of these citizens to do that job. Access to public space is critical to participating in climate debate and communicating clearly the will of the Australian people to our Government and to foreign governments. For a true democracy to function well, it is essential that people are encouraged to participate in public debate and that they do so. This bill does not encourage ordinary people who are concerned about issues to express themselves on the streets.
Bill Moyer, a man of some history in the civil rights movement, has written a great deal about these issues in the context of successful social movements and their great contribution to society. It is useful to touch on his work briefly to establish clearly the benefit to the community and to our society of a robust culture of participatory democracy. This APEC bill has the potential to undermine that culture, to replace optimistic public participation with secret lists and police intimidation. The presence of a robust public debate during the APEC meeting must not be treated as marginal. It should not be pushed to the very fringes of this event and should most certainly not be excluded entirely, which is what this bill threatens to do. Bill Moyer, who lived from 1933 to 2002, for close to 40 years was an activist engaged in movements for civil rights, peace and the environment. Initially trained as an engineer, Bill was introduced to the philosophy and practice of non-violence by Quaker friends. He completed a degree in social work and became involved in campaigns for civil rights and housing integration, working closely with Martin Luther King and other members of the Southern Christian Leaders Conference during the summer of 1966. He is the author of The Movement Action Plan
, in which he states:
STRATEGIC ASSUMPTION OF THE M. A. PLAN.
1 Social movements are proven to be powerful
Social movements have been a powerful means for ordinary people to participate directly in creating positive social change, particularly when formal channels for democratic political participation do not work. They are more numerous and powerful than ever. Much acclaim is given to the social movements of the 1960s, but those of the 1970s and 1980s were bigger and more numerous. The crisis of bigger danger and bigger problems will provide the impetus for bigger social movements and further opportunities for change.
2 Movements are at the centre of society
Most social movements are not exceptional, rare, protest events on society's fringe, but are at the centre of society's "historicity", the on-going process of society evolving and redefining itself. Social movements are deeply grounded in the fundamental values of justice, democracy, civil liberties and freedom. They oppose vested interests that use public offices and corporate institutions in ways that violate these principles.
3 The real issue is social justice versus vested interest
In their attempts to promote democracy, justice, peace. ecological sustainability and the general social welfare, social movements must opposed the excessive power and interests of elite power holders. The consequence of such opposition is, inevitably, conflict with the political and economic and corporate powerholders.
Movement activists must neither become discouraged nor believe their movement is losing when power holders do not change their minds or policies. Even though a social movement may be supported by a majority who oppose the current policies and conditions, power holders will fight until it becomes in their interests to change.
4 The grand strategies to promote participatory democracy
The grand strategy of social movements is to promote participatory democracy through people power, in which an ever increasing majority of ordinary citizens is alerted, won over and becomes involved in addressing critical social problems and achieving progressive change. Political power rests ultimately with the general population. The official powerholders in any society can only rule as long as they have the consent of the people. Ultimately, the general population will only give this consent as long as those who govern are seen to be upholding the public trust and basic morals, values and the interests of the whole society.
5 The target constituency is the ordinary citizen
The primary target constituency of social movement is ordinary citizens, not the powerholders. Social change movements are only as powerful as the power of their grassroots support. The chief task of activists, therefore, is to focus on and win over the public, not to change of minds and policies of official powerholders.
[The implication of this point is that] ? the formal powerholders will not change their policies until there is an overwhelming pressure from the general population. Ignoring this reality is a chief source activists' feelings of powerlessness and movement failure.
6 Success is a long-term process, not an event
The process of putting a social problem on society's agenda, winning a large majority and subsequently achieving long-range movement goals occurs over many years. This lengthy process includes reaching many sub-goals along the way.
7 Social movements must be non-violent
Following Ghandi and King, the ideology and method of non-violence provides social movements with the optimum opportunity to win over and involve the general citizenry in people power.
• allows the broadest cross-section of society to participate
• is based on and appeals to timeless national, cultural, humans and religious values
• is less threatening to ordinary citizens
• forces the means to be consistent with the ends - they are the ends in the making
• has the capacity to reduce the effectiveness of police and state violence
• makes it difficult for agent provocateurs to disrupt or discredit movements
By quoting these assumptions from the Movement Action Plan I hope to have established the value of social movements generally. In speaking of the rise of community concern about climate change in regard to the APEC agenda I point out that this is a movement that should be nurtured, not excluded; we do that at our peril.
This bill gives police extraordinary powers to deal with citizens protesting during September's APEC conference, and authorises the police commissioner to create the infamous "list" of people who can be excluded from APEC security areas. The office of the New South Wales Police Minister says people do not need to be told whether they are on the list—"they know who they are". I wonder whether I am.
The Government is seriously suggesting that people simply intuit whether they are on the list or not. It is an interesting new direction that the Government is taking with law and order. If this is evidence of the future direction of the Iemma Government, perhaps in addition to rebates for water tanks and solar panels, which the Greens support, the Government should also look into rebates for crystal balls or oracles to inform people whether or not they are complying with the law.
In all my years of taking peaceful direct action, of attending community rallies and demonstrations, I have never come across the idea of a secret list before. I did not think I would see the day in Australia when a government would compile such a list seeking to exclude Australian citizens from a public space. As I understand this issue, if I turn up to protest I have absolutely no way of knowing whether I am on a list of excludable people. I have no way of knowing whether the police are exercising proper and appropriate powers to exclude me from the restricted area. This is a disturbing precedent in this State. It is the not so thin edge of a large wedge that the Government is looking to drive between citizens in relation to their right to protest.
The New South Wales Council of Civil Liberties says that creating a secret list of people to be excluded from central Sydney during the APEC conference is "an act of political intimidation". They have well-founded concerns that the legislation will make people think twice before participating in legitimate protest. This culture of secrecy also creates practical problems for police management of the APEC event. In my experience, where protests have occurred peacefully, where the right balance has been struck between conducting meetings and allowing people to express a dissenting view, it has been good communication between protesters and police that has gotten results. Police continually appeal to the activist community for information and cooperation ahead of events where there is a potential for conflict. When police start creating secret lists they are not modelling the behaviour that they expect to see in the activist community. This will have a corrosive effect on trust and goodwill, which are crucial ingredients of any negotiations between police and protesters.
I am deeply concerned that those who have drafted this bill do not understand some of the direct effects that it could have on our State. By continually eroding our democratic rights to protest the Government is marginalising those who are concerned enough to get up and do something. This builds a culture wherein people get stuck in "protest" mode. Moyer also wrote on this issue:
When activists believe they cannot achieve change, they can get stuck in the role of the protestor or dissident, without balancing this role with strategies and programs for positive change and alternatives. Attitudes of anger, hostility and frustration lead to activities that turn the public against the movement. When activists believe that their movement is having no effect, frustration and anger at injustice can spill over into acts of desperation, without realising that such activities hurt the movement by alienating the public.
If this bill is passed, it may well create feelings of anger, hostility and frustration in certain parts of our society at a time when the global problem of climate change demands that we create feelings of optimism, positivity and community empowerment.
In closing I say that, whilst I recognise that police have a job to do during this meeting, I believe they already have more than enough power to do that job. It is important to create a safe environment for this meeting to proceed. It is more important still to create a safe environment that nurtures a democratic movement that saves our climate and achieves real progress on social justice and environmental issues.
Reverend the Hon. FRED NILE
[3.15 p.m.]: The Christian Democratic Party supports the APEC Meeting (Police Powers) Bill and cognate bill, which are very important and timely. The bills deal with the declaration of a public holiday to provide greater opportunity for security for those who attend the APEC meetings in Sydney. The APEC Meeting (Police Powers) Bill provides a special range of powers to assist police in securing the APEC conference, and the cognate bill supports the public holiday that has been declared for the metropolitan region on 7 September.
APEC will be the largest and most significant international meeting in Australia. The meeting attracts large protest groups from other countries. I believe the bill is essential to ensure that New South Wales police have the necessary powers to keep the event and Sydneysiders safe. In the past when protests have become violent—as has occurred in other places, for which I will give evidence in a moment—quite often innocent passers-by caught up in the protests have suffered injuries. Police need these new powers, not just for the event but to protect anyone who may be in the Sydney metropolitan area at the time.
The Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation Group 2007 comprises a series of meetings culminating in the APEC Leaders Week to be held in Sydney between 2 and 9 September. I have been making some inquiries into what has happened in previous APEC conferences. They have been characterised by very large, violent protests. I note that none of the Greens members who spoke opposing the bill acknowledged the threats from violent protestors or terrorists.
Ms Lee Rhiannon:
There is no threat from violent protestors. It is total misrepresentation.
Reverend the Hon. FRED NILE:
You made no acknowledgement. It was as if the bill is in some kind of space somewhere, in isolation from the real world. You did not recognise that. I am simply pointing that out. Most members of the Parliament are very much aware of the dangers that occur from violent protests as well as from terrorists. Some members may have seen the graduation ceremony held recently in Afghanistan for some 200 or so—
Order! I remind all honourable members that interjections are disorderly at all times. The debate has proceeded in an appropriate manner, and it is appropriate that Reverend the Hon. Fred Nile be able to put his case without interruption.
Reverend the Hon. FRED NILE:
Al-Qaeda invited a television unit to film the graduation ceremony of about 200 suicide bombers. The leader made it very clear during that graduation ceremony that these people had been trained not to attack American soldiers in Afghanistan or even in Iraq. He said, "These men have been trained to take action against Western nations", such as the United Kingdom, the United States of America or Australia." I do not know whether he was referring to the APEC meetings but he specifically made that statement. He was not talking about using these suicide bombers in Afghanistan or Iraq but in Western nations.
I looked up what happened in the previous APEC meetings. In November 2004 in Chile hooded anti-American marchers protesting the summit hurled Molotov cocktails and stones at police. About 100 people were arrested and a number were injured. We are talking about something completely different from what we might call a peaceful protest by some teenage university students. These are quite violent, well-organised protests. I have photographs showing that many of the protesters in Chile were supplied with large, heavy poles—about six feet long—with which to attack the police, who were wearing riot gear and carrying shields.
In November 2005 in South Korea there were protests against the summit and very large confrontations. It was said that 30,000 police had to be deployed in and around the summit. Several hundred protesters made their way into the city of Busan and tried to get to the venue by pushing past a police line, but they were stopped. The protesters failed to break through a makeshift police barricade of ocean liner cargo containers and cross a bridge on to the grounds of the convention centre. That demonstrates the desperate actions the police had to take. They did not just erect normal barricades, because the protesters just push them over. The protesters sometimes pick up the barricades and throw them at police. The police in Busan had to use ocean liner cargo containers as barricades in the city streets. A number of police officers were injured from rocks thrown by protesters. Some rocks were said to be the size of volleyballs. Yet Greens members claim that this legislation is unnecessary.
It was revealed on 4 June that an anarchist group linked to violence at last year's G20 summit has rejected the idea of any peaceful protests at September's APEC summit in Sydney. The group called Mutiny has reportedly convinced the group organising the main APEC protest—the Stop Bush Coalition—to remove a reference to "peaceful protest" from its advertising materials. The organisers of the G20 protest in November last year identified Mutiny members as perpetrators of violence at the summit, along with another accused group, Arterial Bloc.
This is why we need this legislation. The group called Mutiny has issued an open letter that opposes publicising the process as peaceful. The group considers that insisting on a peaceful protest seems naive or dangerously cynical. It says in its letter that such action would be aligned with the repression of dissent. The threats are credible. Therefore why the Government believes it is necessary to have listed the names of people who may potentially cause violence during the APEC summit. I assume that all members of the group called Mutiny, if they can be identified, will be on the list. A report in the radical newspaper Green Left Weekly
says that Mutiny had a motion passed at a meeting of the Stop Bush Coalition to remove the words "peaceful protest" from advertising material.
As we know, there were protests at the G20 meetings last year in Melbourne. Eleven people were arrested after rioters in white-hooded suits and bandannas—concealing their identity—smashed a police car and injured a number of officers. Organisers of the G20 protest said that members of Mutiny and Arterial Bloc were responsible for the violence. Threats of violent protests are already on the record. That is why I support the provisions allowing the compilation of a list of persons who may need to be monitored by the New South Wales Police Force. When the media asked police Minister David Campbell to reveal the list of names he said:
Those who have been involved in violent and disruptive protests in the past will most likely be on this list. They won't need to be informed—they know who they are.
I support that statement. It is also very sad that the Government has had to prohibit certain dangerous weapons. One such weapon, which I have never heard of before, is a caltrop. A caltrop has metal spikes, a very nasty weapon. I support the provision that a person caught with a caltrop may be jailed for 14 years, although I doubt that would happen. These multi-pronged spikes could be used by protesters and/or terrorists to blow-out tires of official or other vehicles moving around the city with leaders of various nations, such as President Bush and others. They could be used to attack a motorcade, to injure police horses or to throw at people. These four-pointed spikes have been used by extremist protesters overseas.
The bill is necessary. I will not go into detail about the protest in Melbourne but we all were shocked when we saw the illegal and out-of-control scenes on television. Hooded thugs were rampaging through Melbourne streets smashing cars and attacking people. The police were unable to contain the violence. I am sure those messages have now registered with the New South Wales Police Force, the Minister for Police, the Commissioner of Police and the Government. They do not want this State to be vulnerable to violent protests. In previous years there were peaceful protests but today protests are very violent.
The legislation will create police powers in declared areas: to establish checkpoints; to allow for bag and other searches; to prohibit certain items and allow for their confiscation; to exclude certain persons; to allow for the control of roads and traffic zones; to give reasonable directions; and to allow for the use of police animals—I assume horses and dogs. The legislation will also create additional police powers in restricted areas to enter premises, but not private residential premises; to compel persons to provide evidence of identification; and generally to exclude persons. The bill will also create a presumption against bail for certain offences. It limits the civil liability of the New South Wales Police Force and allows for the use of recognised law enforcement officers from other jurisdictions. I note that the legislation will expire on 12 September 2007. The Christian Democratic Party supports the bill. As other members who have spoken on the debate have said, the Labor Government is probably uncomfortable with such legislation but it recognises the necessity for the bill in current conditions. We support the bill.
Ms LEE RHIANNON
[3.29 p.m.]: The APEC Meeting (Police Powers) Bill 2007 is definitely unnecessary. I endorse the comments of my Greens colleagues Ms Sylvia Hale and Mr Ian Cohen. The bill includes many unnecessary measures. Indeed, there is a great deal of hype surrounding the bill, as was clearly demonstrated by Reverend the Hon. Fred Nile. He highlighted the fact that the bill introduced a ban on caltrops, small spike balls. I have never heard of caltrops being used during any protest in Australia and, therefore, to include such devices in legislation is not a sensible attempt at law reform to improve crowd control; it is simply a photo opportunity for the front page of the Daily Telegraph
. The so-called threat posed to people attending the APEC conference is a fabrication.
I share the concerns of my colleagues that many politicians, police and media are seeking to hype up the possibility of a violent protest at the APEC meeting. Public discussion that I have witnessed so far is that non-government organisations and activists will engage in non-violent protests, which is the rich history of this country. We have many examples of protests but they have not been violent. I can remember a huge protest with the Shooters Party outside Parliament House in 1998.
The Hon. Robert Brown:
Ms LEE RHIANNON:
Yes, and I attended a very small protest where we carried coffins representing people who had died. Actually, police escorted those of us who were holding the coffins because they were worried about what Shooters Party representatives might do.
The Hon. Robert Brown:
And what did happen?
Ms LEE RHIANNON:
Nothing actually happened, but the police gave us some advice and we decided we would leave with them. Overall, Australia has a fine history of peaceful protesting. However, some recent protests against the threat of globalisation have seen police authorities use unnecessary force. My colleague Ian Cohen and I attended the S11 protest against the World Economic Forum in Melbourne in 2000. That was a very inspiring, innovative protest, which Senator Bob Brown also attended, but the violence by police was extreme, as evidenced by the fact that the police paid compensation to many of the protesters present. That is how these situations often play out. In March this year the Victorian Government paid out $700,000 to 47 protesters in response to claims that the police were unnecessarily heavy-handed. One would hope that the New South Wales Government would learn from that experience, but I doubt that from its current track record.
Other members have said the bill gives the Commissioner of Police the power to create a secret list of people who will be excluded from APEC declared areas. It is tragic that more honourable members have not highlighted the extreme nature of this measure, as I am sure that many Labor and other party members would be concerned about the list. I accept that Labor members must vote for the bill because of a decision in caucus, but in view of the seriousness of the bill they should place their views on the record. The list will not be made public. The Minister for Police said, "Police do not need to tell people they are on the list; they should know." That is crazy. One could not get a better example of an Orwellian statement; indeed, one would think that Mr Campbell wrote the book himself.
How do people know whether they are on the list? Is the former President of this House, Meredith Burgmann—who has a fine history of engaging in protests and was arrested many times but was not involved in any violent protest—on the list? Are many members of this House who participated in the community actions in support of the Maritime Union of Australia [MUA] on the list? Are those who protested against the Springbok tours or the Vietnam War on the list? We know that the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation [ASIO] keeps comprehensive records of people. Is that where the police are getting their information and how are they drawing up these lists?
It is a ridiculous law and a dangerous precedent that I am worried the majority of members will sign off on? We are creating a climate in which holding dissenting political views is enough to be considered a threat. It is not a threat; it is democracy. I urge honourable members to be sensible, use their commonsense and speak out against the bill, even if they do not vote against it. An interesting letter appeared in the newspaper last week from a former Executive Member of the Privacy Committee, Bill Orme, who made reference to the excluded persons list and spoke about his own experiences in this area. He said:
Almost weekly I investigated the serious unfair consequences flowing from secret blacklists. As one example, doctors and nurses complained regularly about their inability to find work. The Health Commission denied it had a blacklist. Using a combination of our Ombudsman and Royal Commission powers we proved that a blacklist must exist, and were told there were "only a few persons on it".
The Committee did not oppose a blacklist, but insisted it must be public and accountable. Further investigation showed it contained not hundreds of names, but over 7,000. We insisted it be made public. The Health Commission first removed over 6,000 of the names as not being justifiable. This shows how unfair secret lists become.
Another example closer to the APEC situation was when police in secret asked a hotel to "roster off" a floor manager during the visit of foreign dignitaries because his name was on a secret list. His career was finished, and he had no chance to respond to the police concerns.
After our report to parliament we located over 15 more secret blacklists in both the public and private sectors. Each compiler of a list agreed to abide by the Committee's guidelines to act openly and be accountable.
In 1980 the Committee stated " Privacy is best protected ? by an informed and concerned public, aided by a vigilant permanent watchdog."
The government then set about dismantling the Committee.
Mr Orme was the Executive Member of the Privacy Committee from 1975 to 1982. It reminds us of the many spin-offs that can occur with these types of lists and the number of people who can lose their jobs. How many people could end up on the list by mistake and their life seriously damaged? Police in this State have enormous powers and incredible legislative backup when dealing with protests, another reason that the legislation is unnecessary. People have a right to protest.
I turn to another aspect to which other members have referred, that is, the argument that terrorism is justification for the legislation. Again I place on record, as I have with previous legislation, the Greens' sympathy for the victims of terrorism. Terrorism is shocking; it brings death, destruction, great hardship and hurt. However, I also have sympathy for people involved in car accidents and those who suffer from food poisoning. I do not wish to trivialise the tragedy of terrorism but I remind honourable members that each year in the United States of America 5,000 people die from food poisoning, which is more than the number of people who died in the 9/11 attack on the World Trade Center, in which 2,973 people died. Obviously thousands of people in the United States and around the world die in car accidents. Again, I say that because we need to get these figures in perspective.
The war on terrorism is in its sixth year and we need to ask whether the threat has been exaggerated. By overreacting to the threat and exaggerating rhetoric, the danger of terrorism is increased. There is graphic coverage in the media of threats of terrorism, but when those threats seem to be groundless there is little coverage of that. I remain concerned the way terrorism is being used to justify this Act and so much of what has happened in recent years in Australian domestic and foreign policy. The Federal Government has continually used the threat of terrorism for many of its initiatives. We now know that the Federal Government has been warned repeatedly by intelligence analysts, both before and after the Iraq war, that that conflict would harm the war on terrorism by fanning Islamic extremism and spurring terrorist recruiting.
On 23 August 2004 an investigation was reported in the On 23 August 2004 an investigation was reported in the Sydney Morning Herald
. That report is relevant to this debate because it shows that those who were behind these laws were receiving information that is quite different from what the public is told and what we, as members of Parliament, are informed about. The report shows that elected Federal representatives—and I imagine this happens with State governments—are receiving numerous reports about that very fact, that exaggerating the threat of terrorism inflames extremism and can increase terrorist recruitment. In that report an intelligence analyst stated:
They were very, very aware of our views—
referring to the Prime Minister and other representatives of the Federal Government—
We believed it would inflame extremism and increase terrorist recruitment.
We need to watch how we are conducting this debate. Again I ask members to think clearly about this legislation. It is dangerous legislation for the period of the APEC conference, but it also creates a dangerous precedent for the democratic fabric of this State and country.
The Hon. ROBERT BROWN
[3.42 p.m.]: Neither my colleague nor I were going to speak on the APEC Meeting (Police Powers) Bill and its cognate; we were simply going to vote for them. However, after hearing the Hon. Lee Rhiannon I thought I should say a few words about the bills and her speech. Ms Rhiannon speaks about peaceful protests. In doing that she referred to the shooters' protests in 1992 and in 1996 or 1998. There were 87,000 people at the second one. Ms Rhiannon also spoke about how the Greens counter-protested and were frightened.
Ms Lee Rhiannon:
It was not the Greens.
The Hon. ROBERT BROWN:
Sorry, you or whoever it was.
Ms Lee Rhiannon:
It was the Coalition for Gun Control.
The Hon. ROBERT BROWN:
The Coalition for Gun Control, I stand corrected. Protests with 100,000 people could be frightening—there were 120,000 in Melbourne. But there was no violence at the shooters' protests. From memory about four or five patrol cars and no more than about 30 police blocked the street. That is how to carry out a peaceful protest. Trying to draw parallels between the shooters' protests—two large protests, 80,000-odd people, no injuries, no weapons—and the disgusting protest in Melbourne is drawing a long bow. I noticed Ms Rhiannon had to ask her parliamentary colleague sotto voce what a caltrop was. Now she knows. She is mistaken to say they have never been used in Australia.
Dr John Kaye:
Point of order: The honourable member is misleading the House. It is not true that Ms Rhiannon asked her parliamentary colleagues what a caltrop was.
Order! That is a debating point. There is no point of order.
The Hon. ROBERT BROWN:
It is essential that police have these powers during this period. A sunset date of 12 September has been included in the legislation. Police powers are essential to ensure the protection of not only conference visitors but also the people of Sydney. We have seen the results of these violent protests—the G20 protest in Melbourne was a disgusting example of anarchy. We do not want that happening here in Sydney. The question of whether the preparation of a list will lose people their jobs is hyperbole. That will not be the effect. As far as I am concerned we would be happy to support legislation that can perhaps better ensure that the people of Sydney will be protected. Members have to realise that there are still six rocket-propelled grenades out there that have not been found. One cannot say it will never happen here or that one cannot draw a line between violent protests and terrorism—violent protest is domestic terrorism. There is no line between them.
The Shooters Party fully supports this legislation. It hopes the Government puts sufficient resources on the streets to make it work. We probably do not agree with holding the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation [APEC] conference in Sydney and the inconvenience it will bring to so many people of Sydney or that one needs to have a public holiday to keep people out of the area. But, given that we are holding the conference here, let us make sure that the people of Sydney are safe. We support the legislation.
Dr JOHN KAYE
[3.46 p.m.]: I echo the concerns raised by my colleagues with respect to these bills. There is no question that the APEC Meeting (Police Powers) Bill is twofold dangerous. It is dangerous in the powers it creates for the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation [APEC] event itself; it is also dangerous in the precedent it establishes, because it rides roughshod over many of the key democratic right of Australian people to express dissent from actions and decisions of their governments.
It is hard to believe that this legislation is about maintaining order during the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation conference. Police powers as they exist are adequate to secure the safety of the public and of visitors to the conference. As hard as it is to believe that this bill is about maintaining order during the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation conference, it is absolutely impossible to believe it has anything to do with disrupting terrorist acts. Terrorism is a contemptible blight that seeks to create a climate of fear by both random and targeted acts of violence. Unfortunately, that definition of terrorism extends to acts of war, including the war in Iraq, which many people will seek to protest against at this event.
This legislation is not focused on public safety, it is focused on creating a climate of intimidation against those who would seek to express dissent against decisions made by both the Australian Government and governments of other nations, members of Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation. This is a dangerous outcome, because public acts of dissent are a crucial part of maintaining a circuit breaker against the growth of totalitarianism. If we undermine free debate and free dissent we open the floodgates to totalitarian governments, we undermine cultural democracy and we undermine the idea that citizens have the right to publicly and vocally say they do not agree.
When we look at the history of progress in Western society, the end of apartheid in South Africa and getting genuine action on global warming, all of these achievements have involved mass assemblies of individuals wanting to express their dissatisfaction with government policy. Yet when governments create barriers between people and their right to express dissent in public, they create barriers to social progress. They create avenues along which governments walk and along which democracy gets lost.
My colleagues have outlined some of the very dangerous aspects of the legislation. I want to speak about six of the provisions that are of particular concern to the Greens. The first is that the legislation reverses the onus of proof and makes presumptions against bail. These are dangerous changes to the operation of the criminal justice system; they go to the very heart of the presumption of innocence until proven guilty. The legislation would allow police to conduct searches without warrants. It would allow, for example, a six months jail term to be given to a person who is found within a restricted area, although that person may not know the area has been declared restricted. The Commissioner of Police has no obligation to announce beforehand the areas that are restricted.
The legislation imposes a 12 months sentence on a person for entering a restricted area with a prohibited item. That provision seems reasonable, except that "prohibited item" includes a can of spray paint and a pole for a banner. They are hardly weapons of mass destruction; they are objects that individuals can rightfully possess. Most alarming in the legislation is the power given to police to create a secret black list. The legislation enables police to put people on the list without their knowledge. Those who have been listed are excluded from restricted areas. This aspect of the legislation, particularly, damages the culture of democracy in this State.
The legislation imposes restrictions on people without their knowledge that the restrictions have been imposed and without any right to appeal. If people are put on the list they are exposed to the risk of incarceration. The legislation does not include any clear guidelines about who will be placed on the list; and those who have been placed on the list have no opportunity to question their inclusion. It is hard to believe that this provision is not directed at targeting individuals who have annoyed the Government by the volubility of their expressions of dissent.
Reverend the Hon. Fred Nile said the legislation is targeting violent elements. How do we know that if we are not aware of who is on the list? We will never know who is on the list. I suspect that a large number of people will end up on the list simply because they hold views that run counter to those held by mainstream Australian society. Their views probably run counter to my own, but that is not relevant to me and it should not be relevant to others. Disagreement with others' views is not a reason to be placed on a list and have one's legal rights restricted. I join with my colleagues in condemning violence but there is no evidence that the legislation will in any way restrict violence.
People have good reasons to protest at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation [APEC] forum. I will name just three. One: there is mounting community concern about the war in Iraq. The war has become dangerous, destabilising to the region and expensive, and in the long term it will probably prove to be illegal. Two: there is mounting concern about the persistent failure of Western society to resolve the abject poverty of one billion people who live on the surface of this planet. Three: there is mounting concern with the failure of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation nations to curtail their greenhouse gas emissions. These are serious reasons to protest against the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation meeting that are worthy of the concern of us all. The legislation is designed specifically to muzzle an important alternative view on the business that will be conducted at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum.
I want members to consider for a moment that if this legislation had been in operation since 2000, some events that have taken place in Sydney could not have been held. The Your Rights at Work rally conducted in Belmore Park in 2006 could not have been held. The Bridge Walk in 2000, which called for reconciliation with indigenous Australians, could not have been held. The 2006 rally in Hyde Park against the then impending Iraq war could not have been held. The two protests that were held outside Parliament today—one highlighting the dangers of this legislation and the other highlighting concerns about the brothel legislation—could not have been held. Members may not agree with the sentiments expressed by people who protest those causes—I happen to agree with all of them—but that is not relevant. Surely the Leader of the Opposition would agree with me that they have the right to express their views.
The Hon. Michael Gallacher:
Picking up crumbs, just enough to make one slice that will get them in here. That is all it is about. Fifty votes here, another 100 there, put them all together and get one little slice to get their backsides in the Legislative Council.
Dr JOHN KAYE:
Clearly, by his interjection the Leader of the Opposition does not have a commitment to a right to free speech. That is a great shame for Australia. It is probably one of the reasons why he has been the Leader of the Opposition, and is likely to remain so, for some time. These laws target citizens of goodwill who have done no wrong. They simply seek to express their dissent.
The Hon. Michael Gallacher:
Where will the goodwill be when they get stuck into the hardworking police in the city in a few months' time? The Greens will not condemn them, not one word.
Dr JOHN KAYE:
If the Leader of the Opposition had heard all of my speech he would have heard me condemn acts of violence. He did not do me the courtesy of listening to my speech. These laws target citizens of goodwill who have done no wrong, while those who have done harm and committed us to an illegal and dangerous war walk scot-free. I urge the House to reject this legislation.
The Hon. HENRY TSANG
(Parliamentary Secretary) [3.57 p.m.], in reply: I thank honourable members for their contributions. These bills will maximise the security of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation meeting and reduce the risk of VIPs, central business district [CBD] residents and workers from being exposed to violent protests. I foreshadow that the Government will oppose the Greens amendments and I will address their concerns during the Committee stage. I commend the bills to the House.
Ms Sylvia Hale:
Under Standing Order 102 I request that the questions on the second reading of these bills be put seriatim.
The request having been made, I propose to put the questions seriatim.
Question—That the APEC Meeting (Police Powers) Bill 2007 be now read a second time—put.
The House divided.
Mr Della Bosca
Reverend Dr Moyes
| ||Dr Kaye|
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Motion agreed to.
Bill read a second time.
Question—That the Industrial and Other Legislation Amendment (APEC Public Holiday) Bill 2007 be now read a second time—put and resolved in the affirmative.
Motion agreed to.
Bill read a second time.
Consideration in Committee set down as an order of the day for a later hour.
Pursuant to sessional orders business interrupted.
QUESTIONS WITHOUT NOTICE