21 June 2017

The Law Society of NSW is gravely concerned about proposed legislation being rushed through the NSW Parliament today.

 President of The NSW Law Society of NSW Pauline Wright said there had been no consultation with the Law Society of NSW on the Terrorism Legislation Amendment (Police Powers and Parole) Bill 2017.

The proposed legislation could significantly and unjustifiably extend the reach of police powers and fetter the decisions of the State Parole Authority, Ms Wright said.

Ms Wright said it was important legislation that required a careful and considered approach and should not be rushed.

"We support legislative measures that could enable police to use lawful force to prevent harm from terrorism incidents," she said. "However Parliament should not make lethal force decisions without first being informed by the legal profession on the potential consequences. 

"We need proper and adequate time to consider these proposed reforms to ensure they do not carry any unintended consequences."

Ms Wright said at first glance the legislation appeared to authorize the use of lethal force by police on citizens without sufficient justification.

"The draft legislation could result in the use of lethal force becoming the norm for any siege situation, without it necessarily being terrorist-related," she said.

"It appears to give police the power to kill a hostage taker without any reasonable suspicion the alleged offender will actually injure or kill the hostages."

Ms Wright said the question as to whether this new threshold for lethal force will apply in a given situation will be decided by the NSW Police Commissioner, without the decision being subject to review.

"Such questions are not easily determined under the pressure and time constraints of an emergency situation," Ms Wright said.

Ms Wright said the proposed amendments to parole laws were also unprecedented.

"Parole decisions can already be determined by the State Parole Authority based on various reasons but the new laws introduce a higher threshold requiring the SPA to have regard to the individual's associations or affiliation," she said.

"The reforms could also have an incongruous effect of releasing terrorism offenders back into the community without any supervision. These are the very kind of offenders who need supervision."

Media Contact: Marianna Papadakis 02 9926 0288 or 0413 440 or mpapadakis@lawsociety.com.au

Follow The Law Society of NSW on Twitter Facebook LinkedIn