Attorney-General George Brandis arrives at the Rydges Hotel to discuss the federal government's proposed counter-terrorism laws with Islamic leaders in Parramatta, Friday, Aug. 29, 2014.
Attorney-General George Brandis arrives at the Rydges Hotel to discuss the federal government's proposed counter-terrorism laws with Islamic leaders in Parramatta, Friday, Aug. 29, 2014. AAP Image - Tracey Nearmy

Brandis warns new anti-incitement laws will apply to all

NEW laws aimed at stopping those who incite terror won't be targeting Muslim preachers.

Attorney-General George Brandis denied the laws, which will be brought to the parliament this week, will not target any religion, but will be aimed at stopping those who would incite terror.

'This is a law of general application, it's not directed at any section of the community," he said to Sky News.

"You cannot urge other citizens to engage in terrorism, or at least you won't be able to after this law passes.

"It is absolutely against the DNA of every man and woman in the Government to impose limitations on freedom of speech. But there is all the difference in the world between expressing opinions and urging violence."

Mr Brandis said the proposed laws would see people who encourage others to commit a terrorist offence imprisoned for up to five years.

"We are not concerned about a particular religion; we are not concerned about a particular ethnicity.

We are concerned about crime and terrorism and we are doing everything we can to stop it.

Labor Party frontbencher Mark Butler said the opposition supported the new laws in principle, but wanted to see the details before committing.

"We bring to this question the intention to be as bipartisan as we possibly can. The national security of Australia is something that should be above and beyond politics," he said.

"But we've also said though … that we want to see the details of these laws, we want to work through the detail of those laws very carefully and talk to the government in a spirit of goodwill and see where we land there."

The laws would also expand the powers of police and intelligence services, giving them the power to secretly search suspected terrorists homes and to arrest someone, without a warrant, if the officer "suspects on reasonable grounds" they have committed or are committing an offence.

Those changes have concerned the Greens legal affairs spokesperson Senator Penny Wright.

Ms Wright said the changes would restrict civil liberties and "overturn a number of democratic rights."

"These new terror laws will extend security agency powers that numerous government reviews have already said are unnecessary and even counter-productive," she said.

"From what we know of the government's proposed terror measures, long-established legal rights like the presumption of innocence will be trashed and Australians may be detained and possibly convicted simply for being in the wrong place at the wrong time."


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