Hasten Slowly: Urgency, Discretion and Review - a Counter-Terrorism Legislative Agenda and Legacy

Greg Carne


This article examines the practice by the Howard government from 2003 of invoking a paradigm of urgency in the introduction and enactment of multiple examples of counter terrorism legislation, with claims that review and remediation of that legislation best occur after rapid enactment. Speedy
legislative passage was frequently accompanied by few amendments, a discounting of parliamentary and other review recommendations and a contrasting unwillingness or neglect to subsequently review and amend enacted legislation to strengthen safeguards and increase accountability. By
examining selected major examples of counter-terrorism legislation, a comprehensive understanding of the applications of urgency as a legislative mechanism in counter-terrorism law reform from the Howard years can be
obtained. These applications range between the obtaining of immediate political advantage and an ongoing concentration of executive power. Several serious and distinctive features adversely impacting upon representative democracy were also generated by this urgency paradigm in counter-terrorism legislative enactments. The Rudd government has inherited the considerable legacy of this urgency bound legislative agenda. Questions now arise as to whether proper review of that legislation will occur and whether the culture of urgency will persist in a different government’s legislative responses to terrorism.

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.21153/dlr2008vol13no2art160


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