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Australia's counter-terrorism laws

Effective laws are a critical component of Australia's response to threatened or actual terrorist acts.

Australia's laws against terrorism are in Part 5.3 of the Criminal Code Act 1995 (Criminal Code). Australia's laws against foreign incursions and recruitment are in Part 5.5 of the Criminal Code. This department administers the Act.

Australia's counter-terrorism laws focus on:

More information on Australia's terrorism laws is available in the following documents:

Terrorist acts

A terrorist act is an act, or a threat to act, that meets both these criteria:

  • it intends to coerce or influence the public or any government by intimidation to advance a political, religious or ideological cause.
  • it causes one or more of the following:
    • death, serious harm or danger to a person
    • serious damage to property
    • a serious risk to the health of safety of the public
    • serious interference with, disruption to, or destruction of critical infrastructure such as a telecommunications or electricity network.

Advocating, protesting, dissenting or taking industrial action are not terrorist acts where the person doing the activity does not intend to cause serious harm to a person or create a serious risk to public safety.

Anyone guilty of committing a terrorist act could face up to life imprisonment.

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Role of the Australian Federal Police

The Australian Federal Police has specific responsibility to investigate and prevent crime including terrorism.