An extraordinary new bill could give New South Wales police the power to ban a person from entering a mosque based on instinct.
The Crimes Bill 2016 passed through NSW upper house will allow police to use their ‘gut feeling’ to stop someone they suspect of posing a serious risk from entering mosques, churches or attending public protests.
The move has been quickly condemned by critics who warn it could have ‘grave implications for the rule of law’ in the state.
“These new bills introduce public safety orders that are not about public safety, but about control,” David Porter, a solicitor at Redfern Legal Centre told The Guardian.
He says the powers are about “shutting down” all sorts of public events, “from protests to footy finals”.
“This isn’t a question of the gradual erosion of equality before the law — the passing of these bills means it is gone,” Porters says.
Greens upper house member David Shoebridge also voiced his concern about the law’s introduction.
He says it is wrong for police to have the ability to use extraordinary powers in situations where sufficient evidence for a criminal prosecution has not been obtained.
“If a gut feeling satisfies a police officer that a person poses a serious risk to public safety or security and they think the order is reasonable, off they will go,” Shoebridge told the Daily Mail.
The orders would give police similar powers to those they have to seek and impose control orders on terrorism suspects — but they could be applied to all citizens who are alleged to have some proximity to or involvement in a serious crime, without a person ever being found guilty of an offence.