The G20 Safety and Security Bill is before the State Parliament. Josh Bavas from ABC News wrote in his recent article how anyone deemed a ‘threat’ can be detained without bail for at least the week of the summit.
Also contained within the bill are powers for police to search any person on the spot for prohibited items and the ability to publicly broadcast names and photos of people “prohibited” from the city.
According to an article published in May, in The Courier-Mail by Thomas Chamberlin, the Police Minister Jack Dempsey said “I envisage that Queensland police will have the capacity to do fingerprinting, to be doing proper identification as well as a number of other checks in relation to mobile phones.” At this stage the bill put before Parliament does not make mention such powers; however there are concerns this might occur closer to the event.
Natasha Shorter, an experienced criminal lawyer and team leader for the criminal law team at Quinn & Scattini, discusses some of the issues arising from this bill and her concern towards ensuring public rights.
“As the bill presently stands many innocent people risk finding themselves in custody. The police will have powers to confiscate any prohibited items and return them following the summit, however if they consider them a threat they can detain any person without bail.
Prohibited items can range from household food products, such as eggs, soup cans, jam or any type of jar or can. Other prohibited items could include a surf board and/or hand tools.
At the Toronto G20 there were over 1,000 people who were arrested. The simple truth is our watch house in Brisbane would not have the capacity to deal with that many people. To date there has been no indication where the Government will house those remanded in custody.
I envision that this event will be hugely disruptive to people as the catchment area includes large portions of Brisbane. Within the immediate area are thousands of homes and businesses with many residents facing having to leave the G20 area.
However, my main concern is that many people will be detained for lengthy periods of time because they had innocent enough household items found on their self. Also, most probably we will see residents get frustrated by the disruption and because they get angry they are placed on the “prohibited” from the city list and have their name and photo broadcast.
The totality of this legislation represents a draconian breach of rights to many people. It is my belief that Government can provide strong security without deprivation of people’s liberties, such as the ability to move around.
The Government chose the location of the summit knowing full well that protests always ensue at these global political summits, people also appreciate this fact and understand there is a need for some heightened security measures.
However, despite there being some benefits long term for the city the people directly affected should still be included as part of the consultation to ensure their views are expressed and ultimately their rights are not completely inhibited.”
Quinn & Scattini believes there needs to be extensive public debate to ensure the legislation has the effect of ensuring security, whilst not completely stripping the freedoms of local residents and protesters wishing to protest peacefully.