Terrorism (Police Powers) (Use of Force) Amendment Bill

Mr PEDERICK (Hammond) (17:19): I rise to support the Terrorism (Police Powers) (Use of Force) Amendment Bill 2018. Very sad terrorism activities have taken place in the world for a very long time. The member for Finniss reflected on the World War I terrorist attack on a train near Broken Hill. I read that story a couple of years ago and it intrigued me that that was a terrorist act on Australian soil where three people lost their lives to international terrorists. We have seen so many acts over time and, obviously, in recent times on the international stage through the acts of ISIS or ISIL that have torn communities apart. Thankfully, they have been basically pretty well destroyed.

This legislation was based mainly around the Lindt cafe siege, which took place in Martin Place on 15 December 2014 and lasted for some 17 hours. People were just going about their business and going into a cafe for a cup of coffee or a cup of tea or perhaps just going to catch up with a friend and have something to eat and then all hell breaks loose. It is just terrifying to think about the situation and what could possibly have been going through those people's minds during that siege.

During that siege a total of 18 hostages were confirmed—eight staff and 10 customers of the cafe. Tragically, we had two deaths—Tori Johnson died after being shot by Monis and Katrina Dawson was killed during the police raid. We have had some comments from the member for Heysen about his relationship with the Dawson family. I apologise if I get the pronunciation of some of these names wrong. Marcia Mikhael, Robin Hope and Louisa Hope were also injured during the siege. Other hostages included: Paolo Vassallo, John O'Brien, Stefan Balafoutis, Elly Chen, Jieun Bae, Harriette Denny, Viswakanth Ankireddy, Joel Herat, Fiona Ma, Jarrod Hoffman, Puspendu Ghosh, Selina Win Pe and Julie Taylor.

I remember the vision from the cafe scene and the people who at different times managed to get out of the cafe and escape into the waiting arms of the police and other emergency services people. But it also was confusing when you could see that, from where Channel 7 were, there was a clear line of sight for what you could call the kill shot. A lot of this debate has come about because there was a clear line of sight, but it is all about whether police have the right to use lethal force. That has been debated long and hard since the siege and, obviously, there was a coronial inquest report.

I must salute those brave police officers who just charged in when the gunshot went off just before the siege ended, because at that time they had no choice but to act because there was obviously a threat to human life. They charged in at risk to their own lives and took control of the situation. For the training that these people have to do in the police force and the decisions they have to make under pressure, you must absolutely commend them. When there is an incident, it is not always a terrorism incident like this. It can be an incident involving the STAR Force with a domestic situation.

I know there was one on Hindley Street a little while ago now where someone held a child hostage, and I believe it was a STAR Force officer who rolled across the bonnet, shot the perpetrator and saved the child. What would have happened, in my understanding, if that police officer had killed the perpetrator of the hostage situation, is there would have been a coronial inquest and they would have been suspended on full pay. This always hangs in the back of their mind.

I know that there is some reflection, and it was not a terrorism act as such, on what happened at Tailem Bend. It was at Elwomple, just down the road from Tailem Bend, where STAR Force police and other police were involved in a siege and tragically had to use lethal force to end that siege, but they know their rights and responsibilities. Under obviously imminent threat they have to make that hard decision. They are trained to kill. Let's not muck around, they are trained to kill and that is how to end these scenes. They had to make that hard decision to take those shots.

I am going to read an extract taken from the coronial inquest report into the Lindt cafe siege, and it is from the conclusion of the authority to use deadly force. It states:

The snipers and the police commanders believed that police did not have lawful authority to shoot Monis because he did not pose imminent or immediate danger to the hostages. That belief was an unduly restrictive view of their powers. This interpretation of the circumstances failed to have sufficient regard to Monis' possession of a shotgun and suspected [improvised explosive device], his threats, his claimed allegiance to Islamic State, his unwillingness to negotiate, and his continuing to unlawfully deprive hostages of their liberty.

Nonetheless, I can readily appreciate why individual officers might be inclined to take a cautious approach to interpreting their powers. Their careers and even their own liberty could hinge on the later concurrence by others in the criminal justice system that their resort to deadly force was justified. I make no finding critical of the snipers who concluded they were not lawfully justified in shooting Monis before Tori Johnson was killed.

It may be that the special powers available to police responding to terrorist incidents should include a more clearly defined right to use force.

In recommendation 24 of that coronial inquest report was the use of force in terrorist incidents. It states:

I recommend that the Minister for Police consider whether the provisions of the Terrorism (Police Powers) Act 2002 should be amended to ensure that police officers have sufficient legal protection to respond to terrorist incidents in a manner most likely to minimise the risk to members of the public.

We on this side are introducing the Terrorism (Police Powers) (Use of Force) Amendment Bill 2018 because it fulfils another Marshall Liberal government election commitment to provide that greater certainty for police in the use of lethal force. Through our government, we will ensure that a broad suite of measures is in place to keep the community safe from the threat of terrorism. As I indicated, these amendments are well and truly informed by the approach taken in New South Wales in 2017 in response to the New South Wales state coroner's investigation into the Lindt cafe siege.

This bill will ensure that police officers have a clearly defined right to use lethal force when responding to terrorist incidents in a manner most likely to minimise the risk to members of the public. The Commissioner of Police, or the deputy commissioner if the commissioner is unavailable and the situation is urgent, is to issue a declaration that an incident constitutes a terrorist act.

The declaration must be made in writing but, obviously, in these situations there can be an urgent situation where that cannot happen straightaway. In that case, the declaration can be made verbally with written confirmation to follow as soon as practicable. Once a declaration has been issued, police officers who use force, including lethal force, will be protected from criminal liability unless they acted in contravention of orders issued by the police officer in charge. The bill will also contain a provision to protect the identity of officers involved in the use of force, as requested by SAPOL.

Even though it was not a so-called terrorist act but a siege situation, this is a direct response to the incident that occurred recently in my electorate at Elwomple, near Tailem Bend. Currently, police rely on the defence of self-defence when justifying the use of force, as was the case in New South Wales. What this bill seeks to do is address the reluctance to use lethal force and protect police officers from the risk of criminal liability when they are acting in good faith.

I certainly note the comments by the members for Enfield and Elizabeth and other members on my side of the house in regard to how far you can go with authorising lethal force. With this bill, it is to do with terrorism and police powers. Perhaps this is the start of a process of making sure we have the right balance between community safety and protecting those police officers who do, quite frankly, lay their life on the line. Sadly, some people pay the ultimate price in protecting our community. I certainly salute them.

I think of what happened with Derrick McManus all that time ago on 3 May 1994. Derrick McManus was going around to present a warrant to Tony Grosser and was shot 14 times during a 41-hour siege. He could not be rescued for three hours, but his colleagues bravely went in and got him. Dr Bill Griggs, who is quite a famous retrieval doctor on the medical retrieval team, says:

He is one of the sickest patients I've ever had to treat that has actually survived...I actually don't know how he survived, he's an incredible human being.

The story of Derrick's preparation, survival and eventual triumph is a universal message of what can be achieved through sheer guts, determination, setting achievable goals and a never say die attitude. I had the pleasure of being at a forum in Meningie where Derrick McManus spoke. He is an inspiration who paid a high price.

Apart from the physical price he paid that day, I believe he paid a very high personal price with disruption to his family and his very near-death experience. I know this is not directly related as a terrorist incident, but it just shows the extent of what our forces and brave people like Officer McManus go to to protect our community. It also shows the extent of what his fellow police officers and people in the medical fraternity, like Dr Bill Griggs, did to keep him alive when they could not get to him immediately because they were in Tony Grosser's direct line of fire.

We need to make sure we get the right outcomes. We need to make sure we have the right protections. We need to make sure we have community safety. In this world, we have seen terrible incidents overseas such as in Manchester, the Bataclan in Paris and so many other sites where people are resorting to different weapons of a terrorist nature. People use vehicles on the road, whether it be a car, a small van or a truck.

We see what communities have to do just to protect themselves, using bollards and other devices to stop people using these everyday things for conducting our lives, like vehicles, as weapons with deadly effect. I look forward to the continuation of the debate over time. I know several other members want to continue the debate, and I will certainly be interested in the committee process. I commend the bill.

Be the first to comment

Please check your e-mail for a link to activate your account.