The Guardian 16 November, 2005

WA public forum
against terror laws packed out

Vivienne Dayman

A lecture theatre at the University of Western Australia was "packed to overflowing" on Friday November 4 during a public forum on the new Federal and State anti-terrorism legislation.

People stood at the back, sat in the aisles and even huddled around the podium to learn of the dangers inherent in the "anti-terrorism" bills being enacted around the country.

Sponsored by 25 different organisations concerned about the new legislation, the forum featured Labor MP Dr Carmen Lawrence, Greens Senator Rachel Siewert and lawyer Mark Cox as speakers. The forum also heard from representatives from the Islamic Council of WA, the Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance (MEAA) and Churches WA.

All six speakers expressed grave concerns that the legislation strikes at the heart of freedom of speech and freedom of movement and should not exist in any democratic country.

Dr Lawrence pointed out that passing the new laws would put Australia in violation of all international agreements on human rights and that the government already has sufficient powers to detain possible terrorists or anyone planning acts of terrorism.

Mark Cox said there is concern amongst lawyers and barristers that such laws would bring the judiciary into disrepute — even though it is proposed that retired judges be used

Senator Rachel Siewert said the legislation was a disgusting display of the Howard Government’s contempt towards the Australian people. Senator Siewart has previously been labelled un-Australian by the government, because she does not accept the Anti-Terror Legislation.

In an indication of the solidarity of the opposition, the 25 groups vowed the strength of their membership to mount and sustain such a campaign to fight the anti-terror legislation.

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