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Anti-Terrorism Bill opened up to public fresh air

"This is a victory for democracy," said Mr Locke. "The public will bring some fresh air into legislation stifled by secrecy.

"I am very pleased the committee has responded to the public outcry about the confidentiality of the new provisions, and has agreed to make the bill available to the public and accept submissions from all groups and individuals who wish to make them."

The Select Committee announced today that the public would have three weeks to make submissions. Mr Locke wanted a longer time period until late December.

Up until today, the Committee was planning to rush the submission process through in secret. Only a few select groups would have been chosen by the Committee to see the final bill or make submissions on it.

"The Government was embarrassed in its attempt to ram through this draconian legislation before Christmas," said Mr Locke.

"I am most concerned that unions and protest groups could potentially be criminalised because the definition of terrorism under this bill has been broadened to cover damage to property, infrastructure and the economy."

Mr Locke said he and other committee members had received many emails and letters from people worried that their civil liberties could be abridged by the anti-terrorism legislation rushed through in secret.

"Over the last month I have been arguing strongly that the Select Committee should not develop this legislation completely behind closed doors, and I am very happy that the Government has come to its democratic senses.

"I have never accepted the argument that time constraints meant the public couldn't be involved. Proper public participation in the legislative process must come first," said Mr Locke.

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