Farah Farouque
July 27, 2012

Australia passed 54 new anti-terrorism laws in the decade after the September 11, 2001, attacks, sometimes surpassing the scope of measures taken in the US, a study says.

On average a new anti-terrorism statute passed nearly every seven weeks under the prime ministerial watch of John Howard, writes Professor George Williams, one of the nation’s leading constitutional lawyers. In the Rudd-Gillard Labor era, from November 2007 to September 11, 2011, only six anti-terrorism laws were passed.

“It would be unthinkable, if not constitutionally impossible, in nations such as the United States and Canada to restrict freedom of speech in the manner achieved by Australia’s 2005 sedition laws,” Professor Williams writes. He also cited power given to ASIO to be able to detain and question “non-suspect citizens” for up to a week as unique among comparable legal systems.

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