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Submissions for this consultation closed on Wednesday, 14 November 2012

On 6 August 2012, the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) commenced its review of counter-terrorism legislation in Australia. The review evaluated the operation, effectiveness and implications of key Commonwealth, state and territory counter-terrorism laws.


Australia’s legal counter‑terrorism framework plays an important role in helping to prevent and bring to justice those who perpetrate terrorism. Australia’s counter-terrorism laws are regularly reviewed to ensure they remain effective and appropriate

In 2005 COAG considered the evolving security environment in the context of the terrorist attacks in London in July 2005 and agreed there was a clear case for strengthening Australia’s counter-terrorism laws. COAG leaders also agreed that any strengthened counter-terrorism laws must be necessary, effective against terrorism and contain appropriate safeguards. The Australian Government and states and territories then enacted legislation to better deter and prevent potential acts of terrorism and prosecute them when they occurred. COAG agreed that they would review the new laws after a period of time.

Terms of reference

Counter-terrorism laws in Australia are not confined to the Commonwealth. All states and territories have enacted laws to deal with terrorism. The review committee examined these various laws and made recommendations on whether the laws:

  • are necessary and proportionate
  • are effective against terrorism—that is, they provide law enforcement, intelligence and security agencies with adequate tools to prevent, detect and respond to acts of terrorism
  • are being exercised in a way that is evidence-based, intelligence-led and proportionate
  • contain appropriate safeguards against abuse.

The purpose and structure of the review, as agreed to by COAG, is contained in the terms of reference.

Review committee

An experienced review committee, chaired by the Hon. Anthony Whealy QC, conducted the review. The review committee was made up of six members who were jointly chosen by the Prime Minister, state premiers and territory chief ministers.

The review committee received a number of submissions in relation to the review.

Final Report of the COAG Review of Counter-Terrorism Legislation

The COAG Review Committee finalised its Report on 1 March 2013. It was tabled in Parliament on 14 May 2013 by the Attorney-General.