It is crucial that current students and academics take a proactive educative step towards understanding and analysing the current counter-terrorism laws. These laws are flawed in similar ways to the Communist Party Dissolution Bill that was ultimately rejected by referendum in Australia in 1951.
The government is sacrificing civil liberties in the name of national security, and as Menzies once said: “the greatest tragedy that could overcome a country would be for it to fight a successful war in defence of liberty and to lose its own liberty in the process”.
Over the past five years the Commonwealth Government has made 37 new laws that directly deal with counter-terrorism. When the Howard Government took control of both the lower and upper house, historically a rare control of power, the counter-terrorism laws were passed very quickly with little review.
Closer scrutiny may have led to the rejection of these laws as they disallow the right to a fair trial, diminish open and accountable democracy, subvert the rule of law, undermine the notion of equality and destroy the concept of separation of powers.
As future lawyers, it is our responsibility to be vigilant in keeping up-to-date with current legislation — especially legislation that destroys human rights and civil liberties. The benefits of doing so are huge; apart from being able to more readily protect your future clients’ rights, you will also be appealing to future employees.
Law firms are looking for people that are educated in areas of law that are new to and unexplored by current lawyers. I urge fellow students to get knowledgeable about this area of law — for your personal benefit, for the benefit of future clients, and for the maintenance of democracy in Australia.