ICV’S response to National Security legislation
Saturday, August 9 2014
The Islamic Council of Victoria notes the announcement this week by the Prime Minister and the Attorney General relating to the proposed expansion of the National Security legislation, particularly the expanded powers of the security agencies with respect to the restriction on travel to certain regions and the reversing of the onus of proof on such travellers, in effect forcing them to prove that they have NOT engaged in some prohibited act, rather than the presumption of innocence that underpins our legal system.
While proposals to change the legislation have been foreshadowed for sometime there has been little or no opportunity afforded, apart from a current parliamentary inquiry that is due to close, for community consultation. The Islamic Council of Victoria notes that even this parliamentary inquiry limits its terms of reference and affords no opportunity for any concerns to be raised with respect to the matters above.
The Secretary of the Islamic Council, Mr Ghaith Krayem, stated “Where is the evidence of unity and being one team that the Prime Minister so emotionally challenged us with when at the same time the government has all but gagged any engagement on the issues of real concern to the community? It is clear to us that the Government has no real desire to engage in any discussion on this issue and the words of the Prime Minister are nothing but hollow rhetoric.”
The staged press event of the Prime Minister to make this announcement, the specific reference to the Islamic community and the veiled assertion that the changes to the Anti Discrimination legislation were stopped as a trade off for community support for the security legislation changes have caused extreme distress and anxiety to our community.
Mr Krayem further stated, “There was no consultation with our community before the proposals were developed, during the process of them being developed and clearly there is no genuine consultation intended now on the most fundamental issues in the changes.”
Given the above and the complete absence of any desire to consult or engage with our community on these issues, the Islamic Council of Victoria therefore:
- Withdraws from any and all current processes relating to the proposed legislative changes or any matter dealing with the general Anti- Terror regime at all levels of government;
- Calls on the Government to establish a process of consultation that affords the community a real opportunity to raise matters of concern concern and enter into genuine discussions;
- Will review any and all current programs or initiatives that are auspiced under the Government’s anti-terror regime with a view to ceasing all to ceasing all such programs or initiatives at the earliest possible opportunity.
- Calls on all other Islamic organisations nationwide to follow suit.
Mr Krayem went on to say, “The Government cannot come out and challenge the Muslim community on its level of support when it has made no effort in any way to engage with us and understand, let alone address, our concerns. When the Government is prepared to have a mature intelligent conversation on these issues we are ready and willing but until such time we will not allow our community to be used as political football at their pleasure any longer.”
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Media Enquiries: Bahriye Bol, ICV Communications Officer M|0432 572 163| firstname.lastname@example.org
The Islamic Council of Victoria (ICV) is the peak body for Muslim organisations in Victoria. The ICV represents more than 150,000 Victorian Muslims, through its 47 member organisations located throughout metropolitan Melbourne and rural Victoria. Visit: http://www.icv.org.au