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NSW Police Search Powers and Rise of the Stasi State

police state26 NSW Police Search Powers and  Rise of the Stasi State

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Perhaps I am missing something vital here but I fail to see how a bikie brawl/murder at Sydney airport justifies expanded police search powers. At best, it only serves to justify the gang members’ preferred mode of transport as they clearly can’t be trusted in airports or on planes. I can even see an argument for removing metal herding poles from the airport lest they be used as weapons. I can’t, however, see how secretly searching the home of a bikies neighbour may have prevented the crime, nor can I see the benefit of keeping the search secret for at least six months.

The NSW Government is clutching at straws. It must realise that the expanded search powers violate basic human rights regardless of the requirement for judicial approval and ‘reasonable suspicion’ of a crime. Their convenient and cynical parading of outlaw bikie gangs to justify their power grab only serves to demonstrate the weakness of their case. Also, the Government claiming that the requirement of approval from a Supreme Court judge works as a safeguard against abuse is bogus given that the Government has the power to decide which judge hears the request. It sounds more like a blurring of the separation of powers than an insurance against exploitation of a very dubious law.

An open letter expressing deep concern and signed by groups including the International Commission of Jurists, Australian Lawyers for Human Rights, and the NSW Council of Civil Liberties was sent to the Government when it was discovered that the legislation had been introduced. The letter fell on deaf ears though and the legislation passed late last month. It’s funny how anti-terrorism laws passed in 2002 have now been expanded both in power and scope.

The new laws target specific areas including drug supply, manufacture or cultivation; firearm possession, sale or manufacture; money laundering; homicide; kidnapping; child pornography; and physical violence- most of which seem startlingly removed from terrorism. The problem with fighting crime at the cost of civil liberties is that once extraordinary powers are granted to agencies like the police it is very difficult to claw them back. Indeed, as we are now witnessing, they often end up being expanded.

Now, I’m not doubting the motivation of the police- I’m sure they think that this will help fight crime, and perhaps it will. It is not the job of the police to consider the impact these laws have on citizens. No, it’s the governments job to consider the cost of such laws on everyday, law abiding citizens and weigh it up with the benefit- something that NSW Labor has clearly lost sight of.


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