Australia passes anti-terror laws

CANBERRA: Tough new Australian counterterrorism laws drawn up in the aftermath of the Sept. 11 attacks in the United States passed Parliament after months of bitter debate over whether they are too harsh. The legislation gives the domestic spy agency, the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation, powers to detain anyone who might have information on terrorism, for seven days without charge and without giving a reason, and restricts a detainee's access to a lawyer. The person does not have to be a terror suspect, just someone who may be able to help investigators. Opposition lawmakers expressed worries that civil rights would be compromised by the law. The Government also agreed to a ``sunset clause'', which means it will lapse after three years and must be passed again by Parliament. — AP

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