The Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO) is Australia's national security service, which is responsible for the protection of the country and its citizens from espionage, sabotage, acts of foreign interference, politically motivated violence, attacks on the Australian defence system, and terrorism. Because of the nature of its work, ASIO does not make details of its activities public and law prevents the identities of ASIO officers from being disclosed.
ASIO has special powers when investigating alleged ‘Terrorist activities’.
This can include:
- the compulsory questioning of suspects;
- the detention of suspects by the Australian Federal Police, and their subsequent interrogation by ASIO officers;
- ordinary, frisk or strip search of suspects by AFP officers upon their detainment;
- the seizure of passports; and
- the prevention of suspects leaving Australia.
ASIO has also been known to monitor activists, including environmental campaigners.
A report titled Laws for Insecurity? A Report on the Federal Government' s Proposed Counter-Terrorism Measures details various concerns regarding the Federal Government's proposals. It highlights the lack of justification for the laws. Among other concerns emphasised are the substantial departures from key principles of a liberal democracy, the constitutional problems, and the lack of safeguards.
The Parliamentary Library website has a special section on Current Issues devoted to these proposals with frequent updates and links to different resources.
State and Territory Legislation
A terrorism offence may be committed by merely possessing a thing in connection with engagement in a terrorist act.