Abbott and Baird’s plan to further amend bail laws to automatically refuse bail to anyone identified as a terror suspect goes beyond the recommendations in the joint Martin Place siege review, and pre-empts the outcomes of the coronial inquest.
Greens MP and Justice Spokesperson David Shoebridge said:
“The proposal to automatically refuse bail is a knee-jerk response that would give security agencies an instant veto on bail which does not sit well with a liberal and open society.
“There is no evidence to support this change and the government’s efforts should be directed at addressing the information gap between police, prosecutors and crime authorities, not untested and unworkable bail changes.
“If someone has terrorism links, the current bail laws already make that a very relevant consideration for a magistrate or judge in deciding whether the person is a risk to the community.
“The problem is not that the current bail laws are weak, it is that there is an information gap where crucial, terror-related information from security agencies doesn’t get through to police, prosecutors, and the courts in the short time before they have to oppose a bail application – usually the morning after a person is arrested.
“To automatically refuse bail would be a serious misstep because judges need the ability to weigh up the risk and hear the evidence and make the decision on the information they are given.
“NSW bail laws were recently tightened and are only a few weeks old – they already provide significantly higher thresholds for people accused of serious crimes to be granted bail, and there is absolutely no basis to tip the balance further.
“If notoriously secretive security agencies like ASIO have the final word on bail, it will be impossible to test evidence sufficiently before automatically depriving someone of their liberty.
“The proposed amendments to NSW bail laws go well beyond the recommendations of the report, pre-empt the outcomes of the coronial inquiry, and are an unnecessary assault on basic principles in our criminal law,” Mr Shoebridge said.