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New laws put WA as risk of police state scenario

New laws put WA as risk of police state scenario

Proposed new stop and search laws being debated in Parliament would put Western Australia one step closer to a police state, says the state’s law society.

PROPOSED new stop and search laws being debated in Parliament would put Western Australia one step closer to a police state, says the state’s law society.

The Law Society of Western Australia claims the Liberal Government’s proposed legislation would make it easier for police to stop and search people and vehicles in designated precincts, without having to prove grounds of suspicion.

“This is a gross erosion of our civil liberties, where people can be stopped and searched simply going about their business,” said Law Society president Dudley Stow.

“This is yet another example of the government’s law and order agenda moving us closer to a police state, undermining some of our basic democratic rights and freedoms as citizens,” he said.

He said the current mandatory sentencing laws see the police and the Director of Public Prosecutions being given discretionary powers to determine whether a person would go to prison. He said that, instead, a judge should “determine the matter as part of the independent judicial process”.

The Society questioned claims made during the stop and search debate that the current laws are not tough enough and many who face court on charges related to stop and search powers are ultimately acquitted.

“Western Australia’s stop and search laws are already some of the widest-reaching in the country, and far exceed most other western nations’ laws,” said Stow.

“The proposed reforms are unnecessary, particularly as the government cannot point to any cases under the existing legislation where evidence has been excluded due to inadequate search powers, resulting in acquittal.”

Stow said the legal profession’s representative body in Western Australia is “gravely concerned” members of Parliament are not considering all the issues. He said they are not taking into account civil rights.

“Society’s civil rights have evolved and developed over many generations and in some instances were hard-fought for and now being forgone by elected parliamentarians all in the name of policing and being seen to be tough on crime.”



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