Source Pravda.Ru

Australia to set tough anti-terror laws

Australia is to impose tough 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 proceeded.

Howard also unveiled plans to spend A$20 million 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 July 7 London bus and subway bombings.

Australia, a staunch U.S. ally with troops in Iraq and Afghanistan, 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 10 Indonesians were killed when the Australian embassy in Jakarta was hit by a suicide bomb on September 9, 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.

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 reauthorize after 10 years.

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