Australia to impose "draconian" anti-terror laws

Australia--The threat from Al-Qaida a few weeks ago and sensing terror, Australia in order to safequard its borders are coming with the most stringent anti-terrorist law.

Australia is to impose ''draconian'' counter-terrorism laws after state and territory leaders agreed to wide-ranging security proposals made by Prime Minister John Howard in the wake of the London bombings.

Howard said the new laws, which include detaining suspects for up to 48 hours without charge and using electronic tracking devices to keep tabs on terror suspects, were needed to combat ''unusual circumstances''.

''We do live in very dangerous and different and threatening circumstances, and a strong and comprehensive response is needed. I think all of these powers are needed,'' Howard told a news conference after the leaders' terrorism summit in Canberra.

''I cannot guarantee that Australia will not be the subject of a terror attack ... but as a result of the decisions taken today we are in a stronger and better position to give peace of mind to the Australian community,'' he said.

Howard also unveiled plans to spend A 20 million dollars (15 million dollars) on an Australian Federal Police chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear research facility.

The new laws come from a review of Australia's counter-terror laws following the 7th July London bus and subway bombings.

Australia, a staunch U S ally with troops in Iraq and fghanistan, has steadily beefed up security and anti-terrorism laws since the September 11, 2001, attacks on the United States.

Australia has never suffered a major peacetime attack on home soil, but 88 Australians were among 202 people killed in the 2002 Bali bombings and ten Indonesians were killed when the Australian embassy in Jakarta was hit by a suicide bomb on 9th September, 2004.

Under the planned changes, existing sedition laws are to be replaced by a new law making it a crime to incite violence against the community or against Australian soldiers serving overseas or to support Australia's enemies.

''In many sense the laws that we have agreed to today are draconian laws, but they are necessary laws to protect Australians,'' Queensland state premier Peter Beattie told a news conference.Howard agreed to a demand by the states and territories for a review of the new laws, which have been condemned by civil rights activists, after five years and a sunset clause meaning that they would have to be reauthorised after ten years.

Australia's six states and two territories are all governed by leaders from the centre-left Labor party, which is in opposition to Howard's conservative Liberal/National coalition at a federal level.

The leaders agreed to strengthen citizenship laws to make immigrants to Australia wait three years instead of two before they would qualify to become Australian citizens.

Police would also be given wider powers to stop and search people, and it would become a crime to leave any baggage unattended at an airport.

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