POLITICS

Terrorists In NSW May Do Their Jail Time And Much, Much More

The state is toughening laws to deal with any "unacceptable" post-sentence risk.

04/10/2017 12:46 PM AEDT | Updated 04/10/2017 12:47 PM AEDT
Brook Mitchell/Fairfax Media
Premier Gladys Berejiklian: "This is a strong message to everybody who is in prison."

CANBERRA -- Efforts to toughen national security laws are ramping up ahead of a special terrorism-focused summit in Canberra on Thursday with New South Wales announcing plans to introduce laws to deal with terrorists once they have completed their prison sentence but still pose an "unacceptable" risk.

The post-sentencing laws which cover monitoring, diversion programs and possible extension of sentences add to the new counter terrorism plan to be proposed by Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull at the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) meeting.

The growing set of proposals to tackle Australian terrorism comes in the wake of the deadly mass shooting in Las Vegas and while there have been five terrorism attacks and 13 thwarted major terror plots in Australia since September 2014.

"We know these are tough laws, but unfortunately these circumstances are here because of what we see around the world and around Australia," Premier Gladys Berejiklian told reporters in Sydney.

"We want to make sure that our citizens are protected in every way and unfortunately we know it only takes one person to cause and inflict harm on so many others."

New South Wales authorities are particularly concerned about radicalisation in the Goulburn Supermax prison. The post-sentencing plan covers convicted terrorists as well as criminals who have been radicalised.

"This is a strong message to everybody who is in prison, that if you subject yourself to that type of activity, which will be confronting to community safety, you will not be let out," Berejiklian said.

"That is a strong message."

There are not many details on the proposed scheme, but the state government said the new laws will be modelled on the state's existing post sentence scheme for high-risk violent and sex offenders. It is planned that legislation will be introduced in November.

"NSW will be the first state in Australia to address this through a post-sentence scheme," the Premier said.

"If a known terrorist has finished their sentence but is still deemed a threat to society they will either be detained or supervised in a post sentence scheme. But I also want to stress, that as a drastic move, unfortunately a necessary move, if a prisoner has been sentenced for a offence which may not relate to terrorism but since they have been in prison they have been radicalised they will also be subject to this post sentence scheme."

Minister for Counter Terrorism David Elliot has described radicalisation as a "brave new world" for authorities and said the proposed new laws as "unfortunate" but necessary.

"It's unfortunate that we have to introduce laws which look into a man's heart or a woman's heart to determine if they are at risk to the community," he told reporters. "But what would be more unfortunate, what would be unforgivable for a government is if somebody who was radicalised in a prison was knowingly radicalised in a prison and was then released into the community and did harm to our society.

"That would be the most unfortunate thing to occur."

The New South Wales Police Commissioner Mick Fuller has welcomed the post sentence plans for the state.

"From a police perspective, prevention is the greatest cure to terrorism, disrupting the terrorist activities in the second best, and to do that, to achieve it, there are some individuals who pose a threat to the community in terrorism, and they need to be kept behind bars," he said at the Premier's press conference.

"So from a police perspective this is a real win which means it is a real win for the community."

In a catch-up with NSW, the Turnbull Government will on Thursday push for new federal laws to allow terrorist suspects to be held without charge for up to two weeks.

Currently, it is the only state which allows authorities to hold terrorism suspects for up to 14 days. It also recently tightened bail and parole laws.

"New South Wales had done the right thing in leading the nation in relation to both bail and parole, but where the hole was, where the gap for us was, was in post-sentence and that's the gap we are closing today," the Premier said.

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