Queensland Council of Civil Liberties (QCCL) president, Michael Cope, said today, “Yesterday’s COAG meeting was another example of the now familiar process where after each terror incident our governments hack away at our rights to privacy and due process.
“Given it is clear that terrorist attacks are, sadly, not going to stop soon, where does that process end?” asked Mr Cope. “How much of these precious rights will eventually be left?
“Once again these decisions have been justified on the basis of at best opaque claims that somehow the new powers would have prevented previous incidents or are needed to prevent future ones.
“The police are to be given the power to hold people for questioning for up to 14 days. This is not as has been suggested in the media a power of preventative detention. It is a power to gather evidence.
“We have always opposed powers to detain suspects for questioning only. This is a draconian extension of those powers and will be open to abuse.
“In 2009 the then Queensland Labor government accepted the argument of QCCL that the drivers licence photo database contained highly sensitive private information that should be protected. That is why our law says that police must have a warrant to access it for matters not related to the laws it was created to administer.
“The Palaszczuk government has now agreed, without the consent of the individuals involved, to remove that protection and hand this data to another government to create an even bigger honey pot.”
Mr Cope said, “It is inevitable that once this database is created other bureaucrats will want access to it. Will the government allow the RSPCA access to it as they once had access to telecommunications data?
“Once again the usefulness of this database must be called into question. In the US the algorithm used to search their equivalent data base has produced false results on 15% of occasions.
“It is said that some people must lose their rights to protect the rights of others. This is a nonsense. By these laws everyone loses their rights.
“When trying to prevent harm the state has to respect fundamental rights. It is not a simple matter of balancing. What is often missed is that by creating laws that give police and spies wide powers the state exposes all of us to the risk of another type of harm – the arbitrary use and abuse of those powers.
“The risk of abuse is not slight. History show this time and time again. The point is reinforced when you consider that inevitably once these powers are made available in one area of the law, they will almost certainly be extended to others over time”