University of New South Wales Faculty of Law Research Series
Last Updated: 8 February 2013
The Extraordinary Questioning and Detention Powers of the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation
Lisa Burton University of New South Wales
Nicola McGarrity University of New South Wales
George Williams University of New South Wales
This paper is available for download at Available at http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2212700
This paper was published in (2012) Melbourne University Law Review Vol 36:415. This paper may also be referenced as  UNSWLRS 13.
The Australian Security Intelligence Organisation Legislation (Terrorism) Amendment Act 2003 (Cth) is the most controversial piece of anti-terrorism legislation passed by the Commonwealth Parliament. The Act created a system of warrants that permit the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation to question and detain non-suspects for the purposes of gathering intelligence about terrorism offences. This regime is subject to a sunset clause and will expire in July 2016, unless renewed by Parliament. This article provides a comprehensive overview of the process by which warrants are issued and the powers conferred by them. It finds that the regime is insufficiently tailored to its purpose of protecting Australians against terrorism. In light of this, and evidence about how the powers have been used, the article concludes that these extraordinary questioning and detention powers should not be renewed without significant amendment.