The horrific terrorist attack in New York City on September 11, 2001, shook the world. The response from the United States government was tremendous, but the U.S. was not alone. Countries around the globe passed anti-terror laws after the twin towers of the World Trade Center fell. Among the countries that passed the most comprehensive set of anti-terror laws was Australia. According to a new study, the number and scope of the laws passed in Australia surpassed even the anti-terror laws in the United States.
The 9/11 terrorist attack occurred during the term of Prime Minister John Howard who served from March 1996 to December 2007. Estimates show that from the time of the attack to the end of Howard’s service as prime minister, a new anti-terror law was passed an average of every seven weeks. These laws were so popular that most of them were supported by the Labor Party, which was the opposition party while Howard was in office.
Howard’s 11-year term was followed by two prime ministers from the Labor Party: Kevin Rudd and Julia Gillard. In contrast to the large number of anti-terror laws passed during Howard’s term, only six such laws were passed during the terms of Rudd and Gillard.
One of the researchers who took part in the study, George Williams of the University of New South Wales, stated that Australia’s laws far exceed those of countries facing more severe threats of terrorist attack. Williams went on to say that laws so flagrantly restricting freedom of speech would be constitutionally impossible to uphold in countries such as the United States and Canada. As an example, Williams noted that the Australian Security Intelligence Organization (ASIO) now has the power to detain non-suspect citizens for up to one week.
Several anti-terror laws passed by Australia seem to have been direct copies of laws passed in the United Kingdom. Similar laws were also passed in Nigeria, Niger, Burkina Faso, South Africa, Turkey, Pakistan, China, Canada, and 130 other nations.
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