National

Police set to get stronger airport powers

By AAP Newswire

Laws giving police more powers to demand identity checks at Australian airports have passed in parliament.

The new laws allow officers to carry out identity checks if they suspect on "reasonable grounds" it would safeguard public order or prevent an offence occurring.

Officers can also direct a person to leave an airport, or not take a flight, for up to 24 hours.

The legislation was passed after being sent back to the Senate to remove a sunset clause added by a minor party senator.

Independent senator Cory Bernardi missed a vote on Monday night on the Centre Alliance amendment to insert a four-year sunset clause into the legislation, handing the government a narrow defeat.

A day later, the South Australian apologised for missing the first vote, saying he supported the new laws without the sunset clause.

"It was not the government's fault. I was called away at short notice and neglected to inform the whip I was unavailable," he told parliament on Tuesday.

The Senate was tied 30-all on the second vote, killing off the sunset clause one day after approving it.

The legislation passed parliament shortly after.

Centre Alliance's Rex Patrick had urged his colleagues to back the clause because the laws could infringe on people's rights.

"We should take the default position of allowing those laws to lapse unless there is good reason for them to continue," he said.

Greens senator Nick McKim said Australians had fought and died in wars to protect rights, which were being removed "hand over fist".

"This is a very dangerous path and most Australians, quite frankly, have very little idea about the rate at which their fundamental rights and freedoms are being eroded by this government," he said.

He said police already had abundant powers to arrest people at airports.

However, the coalition agreed to Centre Alliance's other amendment which will see the bill reviewed every three years by the powerful parliamentary joint committee on intelligence and security.

Shadow attorney-general Mark Dreyfus said it was important to keep tabs on how national security laws operate.

"It's a simple proposition that when new coercive powers are being introduced, when there's an increase in powers that are given to our intelligence agencies or our police to deal with national security ... that it's appropriate that we don't set and forget."