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Queensland police get new powers to tackle terrorism

New Queensland laws to help police fight terrorism, including powers to turn phones, high-tech fridges and other devices into surveillance tools, have passed Parliament.

The laws give police more powers during and following attacks, including to search people or vehicles without a warrant during a declared terrorist emergency.

It would allow police to search mobile phones during a terrorist emergency to look for communication between offenders and footage of the attack.

It would also give police the power to turn existing devices into surveillance devices during a declared emergency, including by remotely installing software, when the life, health or safety of a person was in danger.

Member for Capalaba Don Brown said many foiled terrorist attacks were as a result of tip-offs from the community.

“So it’s disheartening to see Pauline Hanson and the stunt that occurred in relation to the burqa in the federal Parliament,” Mr Brown said.

“We need to ensure that we have stronger ties with the Muslim community, not push them away.”

Police Minister Mark Ryan said the debate on the bill came after the recent arrests in Sydney.

“Unfortunately those events are not without precedent,” he said.

“Within the last three years, there has been five terrorist attacks in Australia and 13 major counter-terrorism disruption operations undertaken in response to planned terrorist attacks.

“This serves as a stark and sobering reminder that threat of terrorism to our country and community is very real.”

Mr Ryan said police needed the powers to respond to terrorism and other threats, while legislation needed to strike the balance between protection of the community and individual rights.

Police Commissioner Ian Stewart previously remarked officers could turn a fridge into a covert listening device.

“It is not outside the realm that, if you think about the connected home that we now look at quite regularly where people have their security systems, their CCTV systems and their computerised refrigerator all hooked up wirelessly, you could actually turn someone’s fridge into a listening device,” Mr Stewart said in July.

Opposition Police spokesman Tim Mander said Australians must remain vigilant.

“We all hope that the powers being implemented in this legislation are never needed in Queensland but we should also be realistic,” Mr Mander said.

“These are extensive powers needed at this time but we must also ensure that they have the appropriate judicial oversight and that monitoring of these powers acts to ensure they are used effectively and appropriately.”


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