On the April 16 episode of Q&A, Australian Attorney-General Nicola Roxon, in response to a question regarding ASIO spying on coal protesters, revealed that there are “a growing number of links across some sort of groups who are anarchist, others who meld into some religious, sometimes, and intent with committing a terrorist offence that might link in with other protest groups”.
But just to confirm, you’re saying ASIO proactively is not allowed to go and visit people it potentially thinks might commit a crime?
It can proactively visit people within its remit: politically-motivated violence, espionage, counter-terrorism…
Coal protesters who say they might break the law, is that in that category?
It depends what… I think there is always going to be a boundary. Peaceful protest is one thing, and sometimes peaceful protest can break the law, but there is also a lot of industrial sabotage, which gets to a point where it is actually the commission of quite a serious crime. So there might be people who were involved in that, and I would expect that the contact if there was any of that behaviour, would be police, both state and federal, rather than ASIO. But there may be people and unfortunately we do see a growing number of links across some sort of groups who are anarchist, others who meld into some religious, sometimes, and intent with committing a terrorist offence that might link in with other protest groups — you do see a little bit of merging, but there are a lot of people who are involved individually in those that cause and intend to cause absolutely no harm, and would have no reason to fear that ASIO is in any way monitoring what they were doing.
See also : Al-Qaeda and Anarchism: A Historian’s Reply to Terrorology by James L. Gelvin (May 6, 2009).