New Terror Laws in Australia

Like England did a month before, Australia passes tough new terror laws despite fears of greater intolerance:

The state leaders said they would back the law, in return for a promise from Prime Minister John Howard that the measures be reviewed after five years.

They allow Australian security forces to hold terror suspects without charge for up to 14 days.

The suspects will also be tracked for up to a year.

Queensland State Premier Peter Beattie called the laws draconian but necessary to protect Australians.

Some Muslims have expressed the fear that the measures could be targeted at their community.

Mr Howard said he could not guarantee that Australia would not suffer a major terrorist attack, but the laws “went the necessary distance”.

“There has been unanimous agreement coming out of the meeting for major changes that will enhance the security of this country,” he said.

“We do live in very dangerous and different and threatening circumstances and a strong and comprehensive response is needed.”

Under the measures, police will be given greater stop and search powers and a unified command will be set up at the country’s airports.

The prime minister added that a strategy would also need to be developed to deal with chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear threats.

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