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 Laws to combat terrorism

Australia has long played a leading role in the development of laws to combat terrorism. The Australian Government has an extensive legislative regime around counter-terrorism, national security and other cross-jurisdictional offences.

Key pieces of Australia's national security legislation include:

Australian Security Intelligence Organisation Act 1979
The legislation which sets out the functions of the Australia Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO)—Australia's security service. This legislation, amongst other things, empowers ASIO to obtain warrants for the purpose of undertaking surveillance and to detain and question a person who may have information important to the gathering of intelligence in relation to a terrorist activity.

Aviation Transport Security Act 2004
The legislation establishes a number of mechanisms to safeguard against unlawful interference against aviation.

Charter of the United Nations Act 1945
This legislation contains terrorism related offences, including offences dealing with freezable assets (Section 20) and giving assets to a proscribed entity or person (Section 21).

Crimes Act 1914
The legislation which deals with crime, the powers of the authorities to investigate it and many other related issues including sabotage, treachery, disclosure of information and other issues.

  • Part IAAA—Delayed notification search warrants
    • This Part provides for the authorising, issuing and reporting obligations with respect to delayed notification search warrants.
  • Part IAA—includes search, information gathering, arrest and related powers, including stop and search powers in relation to terrorist acts and terrorism offences
  • Part IA—Section 15AA—Bail not to be granted in certain cases
    • Places stricter bail requirements for those charged with terrorism offences.
  • Part IB—Section 19AG—Non-parole periods for sentences for certain offences
    • Places certain non-parole periods for terrorism offences.
  • Part IC—Provides for the detention of people arrested for Commonwealth offences and imposes obligations on investigating officials in relation to those people arrested and certain other people who are being investigated for Commonwealth offences.
  • Part II—Offences against the Government
    • This Part contains offences such as treachery and sabotage.
  • Part IV—Piracy
    • This Part contains offences for acts of piracy.

Crimes (Aviation) Act 1991
The legislation contains offences relating to aircraft, aerodromes, airports and air navigation facilities.

Crimes (Hostages) Act 1989
The legislation contains offences relating to hostage-taking, attempted hostage-taking and participating as an accomplice in hostage-taking or attempted hostage-taking.

Crimes (Ships and Fixed Platforms) Act 1992
The legislation contains offences relating to the safety of a ship or a fixed platform.

Criminal Code Act 1995 (Criminal Code)
The Criminal Code contains a range of offences for terrorism and terrorism related acts.

  • Division 72—Subdivision A—International terrorist activities using explosive or lethal devices
    • This Subdivision creates offences relating to international terrorist activities using explosive or lethal devices and gives effect to the International Convention for the Suppression of Terrorist Bombings.
  • Part 5.1—Treason, urging violence and advocating terrorism offences
    • This Part contains offences relating to treason, urging of another person or group to use violence in certain circumstances and advocating terrorism.
  • Part 5.2—Offences relating to espionage and similar activities
    • This Part contains espionage offences and other related offences.
  • Part 5.3—Terrorism
    • This Part contains a range of offences relating to terrorist acts, terrorist organisations and financing terrorism. The Part also contains provisions for control orders and preventative detention orders.
      • Division 100—definitions
      • Division 101—terrorist act offences
      • Division 102—terrorist organisation offences
      • Division 103—financing terrorism offences
      • Division 104—control orders
      • Division 105—preventative detention orders.
  • Part 5.4—Harming Australians
    • This Part contains provisions making it an offence to murder, commit manslaughter or intentionally or recklessly cause serious harm to an Australian outside of Australia.
  • Part 5.5—Foreign incursions and recruitment
    • This Part contains offences and provisions based on the Crimes (Foreign Incursions and Recruitment) Act 1978 which was repealed by the Counter-Terrorism Legislation Amendment (Foreign Fighters) 2014 Act. The Part also contains provisions for the offence of entering, or remaining in, declared areas.
  • Part 10.5—Postal offences
    • This Part contains offences relating to the sending of dangerous, threatening or hoax material through the post or similar services.

Defence Act 1903—Part IIIAAA
The provisions within Part IIIAAA allow the Australian Defence Force (ADF) to be called out to respond to an incident of domestic violence within Australia. The legislation contains a range of safeguards to ensure that the ADF would only be called out in extreme circumstances.

Maritime Transport and Offshore Facilities Security Act 2003
The legislation which establishes a scheme to safeguard against unlawful interference with maritime transport and establishes security levels.

National Security Information (Criminal and Civil Proceedings) Act 2004
The NSI Act gives courts a structure to follow where national security information is disclosed, or is to be disclosed, in federal criminal proceedings and civil proceedings.

Surveillance Devices Act 2004
The legislation that establishes procedures for officers to obtain warrants, emergency authorisations and tracking device authorisations for the installation and use of surveillance devices in relation to criminal investigations and other initiatives.

Telecommunications (Interception and Access) Act 1979
The legislation permits ASIO to intercept telecommunications under warrant for intelligence gathering purposes including in relation to threats of terrorism. It also provides authority, where a warrant is obtained for Australian law enforcement bodies to intercept telecommunications in respect of investigations into serious offences, including a range of terrorism offences.