The Queensland Parliament recently passed bizarre new security legislation ahead of the 2014 G20 Summit in Brisbane. The G20 (Safety and Security) Bill contains a significant number of vague provisions that give an overwhelming amount of power to law enforcement personnel. Included are abilities to forcibly detain, strip search, or even X-ray anyone within declared areas at the discretion of a police officer. Anything ‘capable of disrupting’ the Summit is prohibited in declared areas, as are “chains, cables or anything else capable of securing objects.”
“These measures are disproportionate, poorly defined, and give far too much discretion to law enforcement agents,” said Melanie Thomas, Deputy President of Pirate Party Australia. “They have the potential to substantially undermine the liberties and dignity of Brisbane residents to an unnecessary extent. For four days in mid-November, people’s lives will be disrupted and many Brisbane residents are likely to be stripped of their rights, liberties, clothes and dignity to accommodate the lockdown.”
Police Minister Jack Dempsey has stated that residents who fail to pass criminal background checks will be prevented from entering restricted zones. Convicted criminals residing within these zones may be temporarily relocated at the taxpayers’ expense. This approach is unnecessarily discriminatory, and, given the restricted zones cover the Brisbane CBD and Southbank, will doubtless affect many residents with criminal records.
“It is understandable that an amount of heightened security is necessary for the Summit, but this goes beyond reasonable. People will be forced from their homes, regardless of what crime they committed or how long ago it was,” Thomas continued. “Once a convicted criminal has completed their sentence, they have as much right as any other citizen to enjoy the freedoms most of us have come to expect from our society. Continuing to discriminate against these people is an affront to the notion of rehabilitation.”
The security around the G20 Summit in 2014 is just one of many examples of security theatre that exceed reasonable limits and target activists protesting at global events. Pirate Party Australia is critical of the Queensland Government for attempting to gag demonstrators.
“Every time there is a meeting of world leaders, the host government uses it as an excuse to suspend civil liberties and brutalise dissent,” said Simon Frew, President of Pirate Party Australia. “The APEC meeting held in Sydney was the last case in point, every person protesting the meeting was kettled; something the Queensland Police Service hasn’t ruled out for the G20 Summit. The Chaser posing as Canadian diplomats and entering the restricted zone in 2007 was a demonstration of the farcical nature of the overbearing security theatre aimed at legitimate protesters. The Queensland Government seems to be taking it a step further, sparking memories of the Bjelke-Petersen Government’s ban on protests in the 1970s. Premier Newman seems determined to wind back the clock to the bad old days, and this regression must be stopped.”