Terrorism (Police Powers) (Use of Force) Amendment Bill

Second Reading

I would like to commence by thanking all speakers who have contributed to the debate on the Terrorism (Police Powers) (Use of Force) Amendment Bill 2018. A number of matters were raised by the shadow minister, which I will endeavour to clarify as quickly as possible, but perhaps I will first address the member for Enfield's contribution, for which I thank him. Unfortunately, this issue had not been resolved under the previous government.

The previous minister had taken the view that this was not necessary and that we do not need the provisions in this bill, so I particularly welcome the shadow minister's indication that, under the new shadow ministry in opposition, they have seen the light on this and are supporting the same. There are a number of reasons for this. It is a longstanding Liberal Party commitment to clarify in the statutes the protection of police officers in respect of criminal liability.

We have undertaken that commitment in this legislation and, in addition to that, we have made provision for an extra matter raised by SAPOL, and that was the protection of anonymity of police officers who are involved in a siege situation in a terrorist scenario. Just to be clear, the police already have special provision in respect of sieges. The McManus situation has been outlined and the tragic circumstances of police officer Derrick McManus's injury. Special forces are sent in to try to deal with those circumstances. Members of these special squads are not named in the general press for good reason.

The Commissioner of Police put to us, via submissions by the Police Association and directly, that in a terrorist situation if officers work in a circumstance where there has been a declaration, a special force is sent in to deal with the terrorist situation and they too need to have this protection. It could not be in a situation where their names would be disclosed and therefore may be vulnerable to some repercussions from those who might be party to or sympathetic with the conduct of terrorist activity.

We listened to that, so this is a new initiative we have added into this bill which not only accommodates that which we think is worthy of consideration and important that it be in the statute, other than protection in circumstances where investigative officers have some protection of anonymity in the serious and organised crime arena which again is a circumstance where police officers need to be protected. So, we have these circumstances where outside of the normal rules there needs to be protection and then, individually, circumstances where a police officer may seek to have their anonymity protected.

The most recent I can think of was when the Coroner was investigating a matter in which Mr Clavell was in a siege situation here in the city in which he died. During the siege, I think he had three women allegedly in a siege situation. In any event, his death was investigated by the Coroner and recommendations were made. There was much discussion in the course of the hearing of that matter, and then ultimately in the determination, of whether police officers' names should be suppressed—in other words, kept confidential—to ensure that there was no potential repercussion to them and I suppose quite possibly also their family. Ultimately, that protection was upheld and prior commentary made in the course of that case I think was quashed to ensure the protection of police officers.

We provide for that in a number of circumstances. In this instance, we consider the request of SAPOL to be meritorious. We have recognised that and included it in the bill. The matter, though, which I started to recount and respond to which I interrupted myself on was that of the member for Enfield's contribution. He raised the question of definition of what is a terrorist act, and he quite rightly pointed out that the bill before us identifies the terrorist act declaration to be referenced in clause 3 to refer one to section 27A of the primary act, that is, the Terrorism (Police Powers) Act 2005. When you get there, you then find that you are referred to commonwealth regulation that sets out what a terrorist act declaration is as part of the terrorist act definitions.

I agree. It is really irritating to say the least and sometimes difficult to quickly traverse the transfer from pieces of legislation. Some would say you would go online and look at the electronic version and you would cross-reference to each of the bills as they might be referred to, but the reality is that sometimes it is not clear when you get to the end. I will undertake to provide to the house, and certainly to the opposition, a copy of the commonwealth definition which applies just so that it is absolutely clear for those who are following this debate, or indeed to the police commissioner if he has any confusion about what it actually is defined as.

Although I appreciate the member for Enfield raising this matter, he was the previous Attorney-General who made amendments to the Terrorist (Police Powers) Act 2005. He attended a number of national meetings with attorneys-general from around the country, and for a period that also included police ministers, during which time there were joint meetings over the last few years dealing with terrorist acts. There is no question that everyone's attention to this was heightened after the Lindt cafe siege and the subsequent coronial inquiry and other inquiries that took place subsequent to that event.

I am just a little puzzled that he is a bit confused as to what it might mean. After all those years of his making decisions about bills and making submissions at national meetings, he is a bit confused as to what a terrorist act is. I am not quite sure how his contribution would have been effective at those national meetings. Nevertheless, he has had a lightbulb moment as to what needs to be clarified. I am happy to try to assist him in that regard to ensure that we have some clear understanding of what is being described. Let me explain.

As I am advised, the reason we have reference to the commonwealth regulation in this regard and their definitions is that there has been the development of a number of laws relating to terrorism in detention and criminal sanctions, etc. As much as possible, states have tried to work with the commonwealth to have some uniformity in relation to definition and application. To do that, we need to agree what is to be a terrorist act so that when states like ours come into our parliament and say, 'We want to be able to provide either powers or protections to our own state police force who are and, we anticipate, continue to be the first responders to these incidents and are likely to be probably the only responders to many of them,' they are the people who are called in.

The police commissioner in South Australia is the one who will be asked to make a terrorist act declaration, so we need to pass legislation that will arm them with that and protect them with the exemption from criminal liability, as we are doing this act. Therefore, we need to have a clear understanding of what that definition is. We can still refer to it. We can make provision for members to know what it is, but the reason we are not putting it in stone in our piece of legislation is because of the general agreement to try to keep consistency around the country. If there is going to be a change in that definition, the logical extension of that is that we would ask the commonwealth to change that. We would then have a consequential application in each of our jurisdictions.

I hope that covers the matter from the point of view of identifying why that is the way it is prescribed. I thank members for their contribution. This is a very difficult matter. It is a serious issue. We have committed to it and we have delivered on it, and I, like other members, hope that we do not have to deal with this in the future. I do not want to be in the situation of putting on the Channel 7 news again as I did when viewing Sydney then 24/7 during the Lindt cafe siege, knowing that my son worked in the Channel 7 building at the time, fearing what on earth was going on and wondering whether he was at work. Had he gone and got a cup of coffee at the Lindt cafe across the road before he went to work?

This touches everybody. Everyone, somewhere, knows someone who is vulnerable in that situation, or, for example, as the member for Heysen has identified, is very good friends with the brother of one of those who was tragically killed. This ripples through the whole community, and even if you did not know somebody directly who was vulnerable in those circumstances it sends a shiver up everyone's spine to think that this may happen again in the future and people we love may be in the firing line. With that, I thank members for their contribution and propose that we move to committee, clause 1, and then I think we have other matters to deal with.