Inside Australia’s Anti-Terrorism Laws and Trials: Panel Discussion and Book Launch

Gleebooks, 49 Glebe Point Road, Glebe
6 for 6.30 pm
Tue, 2015-03-31

Over ten years after Australia’s first national laws were enacted to combat the threat of terrorism, yet more anti-terrorism laws were passed in the Australian Parliament in late 2014. The first laws were often introduced in great haste and were stunning in scope and number. The latest laws are similarly extensive and controversial. Yet again, powers and sanctions once thought to lie outside the rules of a liberal democracy except during wartime have become part of Australian law.

Timely, piercing and in regard to the first set of laws, written with the benefit of hindsight, this book asks whether Australia really needed to enact anti-terrorism laws in the first place, let alone add to them? Do the new laws pose increased threats to freedom of speech and freedom of the press? Have these laws been effective in protecting the community, or do they represent a long-term threat to the health of Australian democracy? Which laws have proved their worth – and which have not? And what has been the impact of the laws in Australia’s anti-terrorism trials and on the Muslim community?

On 31 March, the three authors discussed the themes of their book in conversation with Mr Nicholas Cowdery AM QC, the former New South Wales Director of Public Prosecutions and a Visiting Professorial Fellow of the UNSW Law Faculty. The discussion included reflections on the need for Australian anti-terrorism laws, the political drivers for making them so abundant, the effectiveness of some and the inadequacy or poor justification for others, international comparisons and areas in which government might do more to respond to the national security challenge.

Further reading:

Fairfax media video and story (28 February 2015)

Book review in Saturday Paper (21 March 2015)

Book Review in Sydney Review of Books (17 April 2015)