Police will be granted extra powers inside a “declared area” of inner city Brisbane stretching from South Bank, to Kelvin Grove, Bowen Hills, Fortitude Valley and Wooloongabba in a bid to stop the violent chaos that has crippled other G20 host cities.
Inside the zone, police will be able to strip search anyone they fear is carrying a weapon or prohibited item that would not be found in a pat down, while civil libertarians claim the police commissioner can put people on a blacklist without explanation.
Premier Campbell Newman said the government had taken the advice of security professionals and they saw “no other way forward” to stop the violence that saw one death and hundreds of injuries at the London and Toronto G20s.
In Toronto, the scale of the “mass disorder” of the 2010 G20 in the city overwhelmed police as masked rioters torched police cars, trashed businesses and were involved with violent clashes with officers.
In London, one man died and businesses were trashed despite the controversial technique known as “kettling” used to trap protesters within a confined space for hours without access to food, drink or toilets.
“This is going to be a very big event, it’s going to put Queensland on the world stage,” said Mr Newman.
“We’re determined not to let it be disrupted by the quite violent demonstrations that we’ve seen in other cities, so that’s why we’ve got this legislation.”
Queensland Police Union president Ian Leavers agreed with the Premier that some of the powers may seem “excessive” but he said they would be used appropriately.
“This is an international event that unfortunately some people will want to spoil,” Mr Leavers said.
“As with all forms of legislation, powers which are beyond the norm we would only use as a last resort.”
Queensland Council of Civil Liberties’ vice-president Terry O’Gorman said the powers were excessive and failed to allow peaceful protests as promised by the government.
“This is what you get when only the police have input into a police powers bill,” said Mr O’Gorman.
“Particular provisions are going to make peaceful protests very difficult.”
He said among the QCCL’s concerns were the allowance for the Police Commissioner to add people to a “prohibited persons’ list” without explanation.
The presumption against bail was also “hugely draconian”, Mr O’Gorman said.
“Rather than protecting or facilitating peaceful protests, this bill is a draconian bill that in effect goes a long way to suspending basic civil liberties for the duration of the G20.”
INSIDE BRISBANE’S CRACKDOWN ZONE
NEW laws will give police the power to strip search any person they suspect of carrying a prohibited item within the “declared area” during the G20 in November 2014.
People arrested and charged will be refused bail, almost without exception, while police will also be able to give orders for vehicles to ignore road rules.
Among the list of prohibited items are knives, chains, blowpipes, whips, handcuffs, spikes and aerosol paint as well as reptiles and insects or “other animals capable of causing physical harm” and even banners on a pole. Police will also have the power to stop and detain vehicles in a declared area if they suspect prohibited items are inside.
In the “restricted area”, the confined space around the Convention Centre, police will be able to search premises without a warrant. Fines for public order offences will be $11,000.
The two-day forum has been targeted by violent protests when hosted by other cities. The new powers will extend to the days either side of the event.
Queensland police to use surveillance drones to combat crime ahead of G20 conference: http://tottnews.com/2013/03/16/queensland-police-to-use-surveillance-drones-to-combat-crime-ahead-of-g20-conference/
Author: Robyn Ironside and Thomas Chamberlin