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10-24-2005 06:46 PM

Australia Is Insane, Too
 
Australia plans law to gag parents in child terror cases Sat Oct 22, 2:31 AM ET


Proposed legislation in Australia would make it a crime for one parent to tell the other that their child had been detained under anti-terror laws, a report says.

If a youth aged between 16 and 18 was detained, one parent would be informed and allowed to visit for two hours daily during the detention, which could last for two weeks without charge, the Sydney Morning Herald reported.

But if the chosen parent was the father, for example, and he told the mother where the child was, he could be jailed for up to five years.

The opposition Labor Party's spokesman for homeland security, Arch Bevis, scorned the proposal.

"The idea that one parent could see their child and then somehow be fined or imprisoned for telling the other parent is absurd."

Using Prime Minister John Howard and his wife Janette as an example, Bevis said: "I suspect Janette would be pretty demanding of John to find out where the kids were. And I'd hazard a guess that John might even buckle under the pressure."

Howard's government proposed the tough new legislation in the wake of the London transport bombings of July 7 which killed more than 50 people.

The laws, which include giving police the right to "shoot to kill" and allow for terror suspects to have their movements and contacts restricted, are due to be introduced to parliament on October 31.

A spokesman for Attorney-General Philip Ruddock confirmed that parents would not be exempt from a general ban on disclosing information about anyone detained under the new legislation.

"There would only be one parent allowed to see the minor," the spokesman told the newspaper.

"While the subject of a preventive detention could tell the other parent they were safe, they couldn't tell them they were in preventive detention."

Police would have the discretion to tell the other parent if it was assessed that there was no risk, he said.


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