So-called "extraordinary temporary powers" for preventive detention have been extended for five years in the ACT, despite Justice Minister Shane Rattenbury breaking ranks with the government on Tuesday.
The Assembly Green criticised the Labor government and Liberal opposition as they voted to allow the latest extension to police powers to hold citizens without charge, conviction or suspicion of a crime.
First introduced after terror attacks in London in July 2005, the temporary powers had been due to expire in November this year. The latest extension provides for a further five years, to November 2021, with a review due after 13 years of operation.
The law allows courts to make preventive detention orders where it is satisfied that a terrorist act is happening or will happen sometime within the next 14 days. Police cannot question individuals held under the detention orders.
A 2013 review called for preventive detention orders to be abolished nationally because they had limited effectiveness. Along with other jurisdictions, the ACT government argued doing so would create gaps in anti-terror measures.
Mr Rattenbury said the laws represented an unwarranted erosion of human rights. He had made his objections known to his cabinet colleagues in line with the Greens' long held policy.
"These powers are both ineffective and unnecessary. It is quite clear from analysis provided at national level that normal arrest and warrant powers are sufficient for dealing with the range of acts that we see," Mr Rattenbury said.
"These sort of preventative detention orders are unprecedented in other liberal democracies. I think the fact that we have them here in the ACT, which prides itself as a human rights jurisdiction, is all the more counter-intuitive."
A recent review committee of independent experts, commissioned by the federal government and chaired by retired NSW judge Anthony Whealy, QC, found the powers to be unsatisfactory and not effective in dealing with terror threats. The panel included an ombudsman, an assistant police commissioner, a deputy director of public prosecutions, and an Australian Federal Police domestic counter-terrorism manager.
The Independent National Security Legislation Monitor also recommended the repeal of the preventive detention laws.
The powers are yet to be used in the ACT. In September 2014 three men in NSW were detained and released within a day while a man was held in Victoria last year in relation to alleged plans to attack Anzac Day commemorations. He was later arrested and charged with planning a terrorist attack.
Attorney-General Simon Corbell said the laws were needed amid the ongoing threat from terror groups overseas. He described preventive detention orders as essential tools for law enforcement.
Opposition Leader Jeremy Hanson said he believed continuation of the laws was more important than concerns put forward by experts during the review processes. Mr Hanson did not substantively address the criticisms.
"My view, and that of the opposition, is that community safety needs to be balanced with the freedoms that we enjoy. The bills have been looked at in detail ... and they do provide important protection," he said.
"I don't think any of us want to be in a situation where we have unnecessary laws, laws that infringe on our freedom. It is a difficult balance, but this is one we think is right."