The Baird Government last night passed legislation that allows punishment to be imposed without charge, trial or conviction, the Greens have said.
The laws, which passed the upper house last night, grant fresh discretionary powers to police make so-called ‘public safety orders’ that restrict people’s freedom.
‘In a busy night trashing civil liberties the parliament also created a new form of criminal sanction called ‘serious crime prevention orders’, which can be made on unreliable hearsay evidence in proceedings that use the lesser civil standard of proof,’ Greens MP and justice spokesperson David Shoebridge said.
Using ‘public safety orders’ police will have the discretion to ban people from daily activities like using phones or computers for up to five years, and to ban them from attending an event or locations for 72 hours, currently a power reserved only for judges.
The orders can also be issued by police to prohibit a person from attending their local PCYC, church or mosque on any given day for the duration of a person’s natural life and are not subject to any appeal.
Both ‘public safety orders’ and ‘serious crime prevention orders’ can be issued against people with no criminal conviction and who are entirely innocent of any intention to be involved in criminal activity. They can be issued even if a person is not charged of any offence or has been acquitted of an offence.
‘These laws are a threat to basic rights and individual freedoms and remove key protections from our criminal justice system,’ Mr Shoebridge said.
‘Public safety orders are an even more powerful and less accountable version of the “move-on” powers the Coalition recently gave to police and will give police the discretion to ban people from attending events or locations for 72 hours.
‘Public safety orders are made by police with no court oversight and can be in effect for the whole of a person’s life, and all of this without there being any merits appeal to a court.
‘Serious crime prevention orders can be made by a court based on hearsay evidence presented by police and can apply to entirely innocent people who never had an intention to be involved in any criminal activity.
‘We have seen in the past that discretion police powers have a disproportionate impact on vulnerable people, and these new public safety orders will inevitably work in the same way,’ Mr Shoebridge said.
The Bar Association, the Law Society, the International Commission of Jurists and the Council for Civil Liberties have all labelled the laws ‘a gross affront to the rule of law and democracy’.
Mr Shoebridge said the laws were ‘the almost inevitable result when you have the police minister also acting as the justice minister and taking a more senior role in the cabinet to the attorney general.’
‘The police effectively get whatever [they want] with the parliament just rubber-stamping their request.
‘Remarkably there has not been a single concrete example raised by this government to justify why these increased police powers are needed.
‘Put simply, this move by the Baird government to set up a parallel legal system where punishment can be imposed without charge, criminal trial or conviction is offensive to our traditions of liberty,’ Mr Shoebridge said.