Publication Details

This is a preprint of an article whose final and definitive form has been published as: Rix, M, Australia's anti-terrorism legislation: the national security state and the community legal sector, Prometheus, December 2006, 24(4), 429-439. Copyright 2006 Taylor & Francis. Prometheus is available online here through Taylor & Francis.


This paper considers the implications for the community legal sector of the Australian Government’s recent national security and anti-terrorism legislation. Critics of the legislation have deep concerns that, by giving the police and intelligence services considerable new powers in the areas of arbitrary arrest and detention, it will lead to the significant erosion of rights and freedoms that Australians have long been able to take for granted. Other concerns with the legislation relate to the use of force, sedition, and legal representation for those held in preventative detention. In addition, the legislation has no adequate protection against the intelligence services and police misusing or abusing their new, extended powers. Community legal centres (CLCs), that comprise the community legal sector, have the important role of informing citizens of their basic rights and assisting them in exercising these rights in their dealings with government and its agencies. This paper will consider what effects the anti-terrorism legislation will have on the community legal sector’s effectiveness in playing this role. The sector, which the Australian government relies on and funds to provide legal services to some of the most disadvantaged members of the Australian community, has as its raison d’être improving access to justice and equality before the law for all Australians. The paper will also consider the impact of the anti-terrorism legislation on the relationship between the government and the sector.

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