National Security Council Bill 2015: Undermining Parliamentary Democracy – Ambiga Sreenevasan

BY AMBIGA SREENEVASAN

TakNakDiktatorThe Senate (unsurprisingly) passed the National Security Council Bill 2015. This, despite Senators from both sides of the political divide voicing a range of concerns about it. That did not stop the government from pushing the Bill through without compromise.

Lawyers and activists across the nation have been warning for weeks of the dangers of the Bill and how it violated the Federal Constitution and the sanctity of the rule of law. It would have been in the interests of the nation to have had further discussion on it. Yet the government remained stubborn and did not even show a willingness to listen to reason. What we had was a government acting in haste, willing to overlook clear constitutional and legal impediments to the Bill, and taking the attitude that they know best. This should have triggered alarm bells. It was therefore irresponsible to say the least, to deliver them this Bill, unaltered.

Make no mistake. This Bill gives absolute power to the Prime Minister to declare an area a “security area”. Once an area has been declared a “security area” it becomes a legal black hole. Anything can be done there by the security forces including arrest, seizure of property and even killing, without any of the usual legal safeguards.

“It is absolutely untrue that the Prime Minister has absolute power” thundered the Bill’s proponents. But the clear wording of the Bill contradicts them. They are set out below for the readers to judge for themselves. Read more