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Howard Says Terror Law Must Pass

The Mercury | November 1 2005

JOHN Howard has warned the Coalition partyroom the proposed terrorism legislation must pass in the national interest as the state premiers confirmed today's deadline to reach agreement on the new laws is likely to pass without a deal.

A special partyroom meeting will be held later in the week to consider the terrorism legislation when agreement is reached with state premiers and Liberal Party backbenchers who have urged greater judicial oversight of proposed control orders to detain terror suspects without charge.

During heated debate at an ALP caucus meeting today former opposition leader in the Senate John Faulkner also raised concerns about the Labor Party's handling of the issue urging MPs to speak out that our involvement in the Iraq war had increased the risk of terror attacks. Labor commits to laws

Last night, senior frontbencher Julia Gillard raised concerns that the leadership group had failed to have a coherent strategy to respond to the Prime Minister's terror laws.

Mr Howard needs majority support from the state leaders to finalise the laws, which are expected to go before Federal parliament this week.

A Coalition backbench committee is understood to have secured three key changes.

They include a new type of control order for terrorism suspects and a greater role for judges in overseeing and reviewing them, a change to the definition of terrorism to ensure freedom of speech is better protected, and the use of state – rather than federal – laws dealing with police shoot-to-kill powers.

Opposition Leader Kim Beazley says until the Government releases the final draft no decision can be made on whether the party will support it.

However, Mr Beazley has said Labor would support tough anti-terrorism measures in the interests of national security and would seek amendments to the bill to ensure their protected civil rights.

Several ALP backbenchers, including former Labor national president Carmen Lawrence, have called on the party to oppose the bill because it has the potential to turn Australia into a police state.

Meanwhile, Queensland Premier Peter Beattie said there would be no deal between the states and Commonwealth today. No deal

"What we have to ensure, of course, is that what we put up is fair, it provides for the protection of Australians, it attacks terrorism, but will also not get knocked off in the High Court," Mr Beattie said.

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