Queensland enacts G20 law changes

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Special security laws for next year's G20 summit in Brisbane have been passed by Queensland's parliament. 

Brisbane's Central Business District will be shut down to protect world leaders meeting for the economic talks that will cost taxpayers $100 million.

But business groups, lawyers and protest organisers say the laws go too far, as Stefan Armbruster reports.

In just over twelve months, the bustling heart of Brisbane city will be virtually deserted - temporarily.

The CBD will be locked down in mid-November to protect G20 leaders.

Queensland police minister Jack Dempsey says it will be one of the biggest security operations ever undertaken in the state.

"Look, it's an enormous security event. We'll have over 5,000 police over the course of those coming days. We'll have resources from right around Australia and New Zealand and they'll be specialised officers to ensure the safety of the community and those participating in the G20 event."

Four thousand visitors are expected, with 3,000 foreign journalists following their every move.

Legislation to enforce the lockdown, control protests and declare a special public holiday has been passed by the Queensland parliament.

Vice President of the Queensland Law Society Ian Brown is particularly worried about the repeated use of the term 'disruption' in the legislation.

"There are certain provisions in relation to people being charged for certain offence and there being a presumption against granting of bail. Throughout the legislation there is this all-pervasive concept of 'disruption'. Many of the impacts that will occur to people's rights are associated with the concept of a disruption to the G20, that's a very vague and loose concept. Disruption could simply be yelling very loudly."

G20 laws will allow police to strip-search, blacklist, detain and hold people until the end of the summit.

Ian Brown says the laws are heavily slanted towards the police.

"The first concern is with the reversal of the onus of proof. For example, if somebody is carrying home from the shops a bag of groceries, they might have a carton of eggs, a jar of marmalade and tin of peeled tomatoes. All of those are prohibited items."

Being the focus of world attention, the G20 attracts both peaceful protests and violent clashes as in Melbourne in 2006 and Toronto in 2010.

Police minister Jack Dempsey says protests will be catered for.

"For protestors, they'll still be able to peacefully protest, there are areas set aside for those wanting to protest and we respect their rights to being able to protest and voice their opinions, but I encourage them .. In the next 12 months the police will be engaging with these protest groups to ensure obviously that they are able to get their message across in a safe manner that respects all the other people attending."

The summit and its security arrangements come a with hefty price tag of over 100 million dollars, mainly paid for by the federal government.

Some restrictions begin in February and special police powers will remain in place for several days after the G20.

Meetings like this are a mixed blessing for local businesses, especially the special public holiday.

Nick Behrens, from the Chamber of Commerce and Industry Queensland, says they welcome the international attention Brisbane will receive but it comes at a price for local business.

"So faced with the increased increased labour costs coupled with reduced customers, we think that many business will voluntarily choose to close and we're fearful of what that closure will mean for the perception of Brisbane. Here we are hosting an international event and yet many of our restaurants will be closed and we think that's a bad image to convey to the world."

 

 

Source SBS Radio

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