Prevention and pre‐emption in Australia's domestic anti‐terrorism legislation

14 November 2012

This article examines whether prevention in anti‐terror law is distinct from prevention in other areas of Australian law.

The move towards prevention in domestic anti-terror law and policy was initially justified as an exceptional response to the exceptional threat of transnational terrorism following September 11, 2001. However, commonalities are discernable between prevention in anti-terror law and prevention as employed in other areas of Australian law. To begin contextualising and analysing preventive practices in Australia, a framework is required.

‘The preventive state’ provides one way to view the collection of preventive measures employed in Australia. Engaging a governmentality perspective has the potential to make visible prevention and pre-emption in law and governance, and to inform critical treatment of the preventive state itself. Whether and how prevention and pre-emption in anti-terror law differ from and exhibit continuities with other preventive measures has the potential to expose issues of selectivity and proportionality between preventive measures and force consideration of the limits of state action to prevent or pre-empt harm.

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