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Petition against the Anti-terrorism Legislation

URGENT: Sign up NOW - still time! - tell our leaders that Architects for Peace opposes the anti-terrorism laws.

Note: a second letter with 170 signatures was sent on December 1, 2005 to Prime Minister John Howard, Attorney-General Philip Ruddock PM, Mr. Kim Beazley MP, other politicians and the press. However, we will continue collecting your signatures, as the issue unfortunately won't go away.

The sedition laws will affect critical political and creative expression, which nourishes public art, urban and architectural design. It is not clear to us as to how removing rights of protest and criticism is supposed to make us safer. The law threatens the legality of actions by professional organisations such as our own who actively pursue independent debate on the development of our cities.(...)
The shared built environment relies, like public society, on a degree of trust. We see the new laws as signalling the decreasing level of trust the government has in its citizens. As that mutual trust and conviviality is eroded, this sets a dangerous precedent, which is quickly reflected in a hardening/armouring of the public realm. (...)

This petition was drafted and "instigated" by: Su Mellersh-Lucas, Peter Johns and Beatriz C. Maturana in consultation with the Architects for Peace's steering committee

Read or sign the petition NOW:
the terrorist legislation

We suggest you can also send this petition to:

The Hon Stephen Bracks MP:
The Hon Alexander Downer MP:
The Hon Tony Abbott MP:
The Hon Kim Beazley MP:
The Hon Philip Ruddock MP:
The Hon John Howard MP:
The Age:
The Australian:

Find more and write your comments: here

Below we are posting some of the responses we have received from politicians so far:
(Find the petition against the Anti-terrorism Legislation: here )

1- From: Dr Carmen Lawrence MP Federal Member for Fremantle

Dear Architects for Peace, one and all,

I want to thank you for your email on the subject of the government's proposed Terror Laws. As you can imagine, I have received a large number of messages on this topic - and it has been heartening to see so many people engaged in the consideration of this important issue.
Having said that, it has been equally disturbing to see the issues involved so often misrepresented. The arrests that took place in Melbourne and Sydney, for example, are now being used by some as a blanket justification for the Terror Laws. The facts are:
(1) Those arrests were made under existing laws, with one tiny modification
(2) There is no suggestion that the proposed laws would have dealt with that particular situation any better than the current laws have

What's more, those arrests do not in any way evaporate the proper cynicism that greeted the coincidental introduction of the government's Terror and IR laws. Many people questioned the political motivation behind the coincidence well in advance of the urgent recall of the Senate on Wednesday, 2 November 2005. Yet somehow the government's careful scheduling of its unpopular IR legislation for the same week as its more popular 'tough-on-terrorism' legislation has now been forgotten.

It suits the government and some sections of the media to ascribe any and all criticism of the Terror laws to poorly informed, bleeding-heart members of the so-called lunar left. This, of course, is nothing but ridiculous, playground politics. It is designed to corner the debate. And, strangely, in that context there has been very little coverage given to the letter to the Prime Minister from the Law Council of Australia (3 November 2005) which stated:

Dear Prime Minister,

Australia's legal profession is united behind the Law Council of Australia in its opposition to your Government's proposed anti-terrorism legislation. The Law Council particularly objects to the introduction of control orders and preventative detention orders. The legislation offends our traditional rights and freedoms. The laws have properly been described as draconian. The justification advanced for their introduction has been meagre. […]

The Law Council speaks on behalf of the Law Societies and Bar Associations of every State and Territory in Australia. It is difficult to imagine a peak body with greater relevant expertise. Moreover, the Law Council is hardly a radical, left-wing, anti-government organisation.
Put simply, the Howard government has not explained nor justified the need to remove freedoms that have been at the foundation of our democracy since its inception.

I will be speaking in the House of Representatives debate on the Bill during the week beginning 28 November, and will include the text of my contribution on the website shortly afterwards ( For your interest, however, I attach the notes I have prepared in anticipation of the debate.
I do maintain a mailing list for people interested in receiving information about Australian politics and democracy. If you would like to be added to the list, please email Joshua Wilson ( and supply your name, address, and telephone number. All details are kept in confidence, and of course you can unsubscribe at any time.

Once again, thank you for taking the time to write to me. If there is a good thing to come out of all this bad politics, it is that people across Australia - people like yourself - are speaking out, and in so doing are being active as citizens of the democracy that belongs to all of us, and that we all must tend.

Best wishes,

Dr Carmen Lawrence MP
Federal Member for Fremantle

2- From: Office of the Hon Tony Abbott MP Minister for Health and Ageing

On behalf of Mr Abbott, I would like to thank you for your email about the Government's counter-terror legislation.

Mr Abbott has noted your concerns and has asked me to raise your views with the Attorney-General, the Hon Phillip Ruddock MP, who has portfolio responsibility for this matter. I have therefore forwarded your letter to Mr Ruddock for his attention.

Thank you again for taking the time to write to Mr Abbott.

Yours sincerely

Paris Kostakos
Office of the Hon Tony Abbott MP
Minister for Health and Ageing

3- From a representative of the Premier of Victoria JS2005/14307

Ms Beatrice C Maturana, Ms Su Mellerish-Lucas,Ms Shelley Freeman, Mr Anthony McInneny,Mr Peter Johns, Mr Stephen Cameron,Ms Karen Tanfield and Mr Mathew Bond,

Dear Ms Maturana, Ms Mellerish-Lucas, Ms Freeman, Mr McInneny,
Mr Johns, Mr Cameron, Ms Tanfield and Mr Bond

Thank you for your email to the Premier of Victoria of 4 November 2005 regarding counter-terrorism legislation. I am responding on the Premier’s behalf.

The security and safety of the community is the first priority of the Victorian Government. The Victorian Government acknowledges that these measures have raised some concerns, but believes that tough measures are necessary in the current security environment.
Victoria took a leadership position at the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) meeting. We sought to put balance into this legislation so the community can be protected from the very real threat of terrorism, without a loss of individual liberties.

We argued for a judicial review of decisions, legal representation and a sunset clause. I am pleased that we have succeeded in convincing the Prime Minister to make these changes, so Victoria is now prepared to support the legislation.

The measures relating to preventative detention and control orders agreed by COAG will apply only in extreme cases where those measures are necessary to protect public safety. The legislation will require people detained under preventative provisions to be informed of their rights and be given access to legal representation.

The use of these provisions will be subject to judicial review and Parliament will receive an annual report concerning the actions taken under these measures. Strong measures will be included to prevent the mistreatment of any person detained in custody.
Victoria made it clear we would not support extended "shoot to kill" powers. The Federal Government has agreed to the removal of the shoot to kill provisions. Adequate laws on the use of force already exist for State police, and lethal force is only allowed under the common law if a person’s life is in immediate danger.Other proposed changes such as the sedition and financing terrorism provisions do not require State approval, but will form part of the Commonwealth package of laws.

These new national anti–terror laws will build on the work Victoria has done to improve our ability to prevent and respond to a terrorist incident. Since the World Trade Centre attacks in 2001, the Government has committed over $150 million in enhancing and upgrading Victoria’s counter-terrorism capabilities and arrangements.

On 21 September 2005, the Premier released a statement on counter-terrorism called Protecting the Community: Attacking the Causes of Terrorism. This Statement foreshadowed new laws including giving police increased stop and search powers, with appropriate safeguards. The Premier’s Statement also commits the Government to work in partnership with faith and religious leaders to address extremist views in their communities. The full text of the Premier’s statement can be found at

The Government has carefully considered the democratic principles upon which our society is based in the development of both the Victorian and the proposed COAG legislation. The strict limits placed on these powers and the incorporation of robust safeguards will ensure that the new counter-terrorism legislation strikes the right balance between protecting the community, without interfering with the freedoms that all Victorians enjoy.
I trust this information will allay your concerns.

Yours sincerely

Chief of Staff

This Department, in accordance with the Public Records Act 1973, will collect and store the information you have provided. Should you have any queries regarding access to your personal information held by this Department please contact the Privacy Officer, Department of Premier & Cabinet, Level 2, 1 Treasury Place, East Melbourne 3002.


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