A new Bill has been introduced to Parliament by the Palaszczuk Government to enhance the capacity of police to rapidly and effectively respond to terrorist and other critical incidents.
“This Bill is about keeping Queenslanders safe in a changing environment where the threat of terrorism and violent extremism is a risk we, unfortunately, have to face,” Police Minister Mark Ryan said.
The Counter-Terrorism and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2017 will:
- enhance public and police officer safety and ensure police can respond rapidly and effectively to terrorism and other high-risk critical incidents
- enhance the operational effectiveness of surveillance device powers
- provide power for police to move and/or destroy homemade explosives, and
- repeal the now defunct Queensland Police Welfare Club Act 1970
“While we hope to not use these powers, it’s important police have the best legislative tools to protect the public in a terrorist situation or other critical incident,” Minister Ryan said.
“These types of incidents create a significant risk to the lives and safety of Queenslanders and it’s important we do whatever we can to minimise harm to the community.”
This Bill will enhance terrorist emergency powers including the power to search an electronic device, require passwords and access information to facilitate the search, immediately copy evidence found on the devices and use biometric information to rapidly establish or confirm a person’s identity.
“The powers are balanced by robust safeguards to ensure a balance between protecting the community from harm and an individual’s rights and liberties,” Minister Ryan said.
The Bill will also adopt a consistent approach for police to respond to terrorism and significant emergency incidents involving hostages, armed offenders or the use of improvised explosive devices.
Commissioner Ian Stewart said the proposed laws would give officers extended powers to help them respond more effectively in an emergency.
“It’s important that police harness technology to help rapidly respond to and investigate critical incidents.
“The ability to search electronic devices, with the appropriate safeguards, could be critical in an emergency response.
“While there is no specific threat to Queensland, we should never become complacent when it comes to matters of terrorism.
“During a declared public emergency, the community would expect its police service to respond swiftly and effectively and we remain committed to doing that,” Commissioner Stewart said.