Tuesday, 17 May 2016

Is there no lie too big or too small that Liberal party ministers, candidates or supporters will not utter in the 2016 Australian federal election campaign?

This was Australian Attorney-General and Liberal Senator for Queensland George Brandis as reported by ABC News on 15 May 2016:
In 2009 Peta Murphy was among a group of lawyers who made a submission to parliament urging the Government to deny police and the domestic spy agency ASIO stronger powers to detain terror suspects without charge.
Attorney General George Brandis said he was "very alarmed" at Ms Murphy's stance and demanded Mr Shorten immediately dump her as Labor's candidate.
"That submission was made a matter of weeks after it was disclosed that the Al-Shabaab terrorist group had been engaged in a plan to attack the Holsworthy Barracks in Sydney," he told reporters.
"It is shocking that the Labor candidate … should be a person who, within weeks of people being charged for an attempted terrorist strike against an Australian military base, should be calling into question both whether or not Al-Shabaab should be listed as a terrorist organisation, which she did, and whether we should have specific anti-terrorism laws, which she also did."
The Australian Financial Review added further detail:
In 2009, Ms Murphy was a signatory on a submission by Liberty Victoria sent to then Labor attorney-general Robert McClelland calling on him to deny the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation and the police stronger powers to detain ­terror suspects without charge.

So what did Ms. Murphy sign that was supposedly so shocking?

On 25 June 2009 the Senate referred the private member’s bill Anti-Terrorism Laws Reform Bill 2009 for inquiry and report.

In August 2009 three men were arrested and charged with terrorism offences committed between 1 February and 4 August that year. At that time Al-Shabaab was not listed as a terrorist organisation by the Australian Government [See Fattal & Ors v The Queen [2013] VSCA 276]. These men were not brought to trial until mid-2010.

The submission to the Senate Legal and Constitutional Committee George Brandis was referring to appears to be one submitted by the 77 year-old advocacy group Liberty Victoria (Victorian Council of Civil Liberties Inc.) on 9 September 2009 which was co-signed by Peta Murphy as a council committee member.

It was the only submission made by Liberty Victoria to the Inquiry into the Anti-Terrorism Laws Reform Bill 2009 and it comprised two pages in length.

None of the other 2009 archived submissions* listed on the Liberty Victoria website which address national anti-terrorism legislation carry her name as a specific co-signatory.

Currently Ms.Murphy is a Labor candidate in the Dunkley electorate and is a barrister who has worked at the Victorian Law Reform Commission, as a Senior Public Defender for Legal Aid and as an adviser in the Australian Parliament. 

To understand what an incredible distortion of fact the accusations made by George Brandis are, here is that Liberty Victoria submission in full:

* One other 2009 submission by Liberty Victoria sent on 25 September to the Assistant Secretary, Security Law Branch, Attorney-General’s Department referred in part to the same private member's bill and was signed not by Ms.Murphy, but solely by the then president of the Victorian Council of Civil Liberties. It can be viewed here.

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