CANBERRA -- Australian state governments have agreed on Friday to change laws so they can keep high-risk inmates convicted under terrorism laws in prison after they have served their sentences.
State and territory attorneys-general said at a meeting at Parliament House that they had in-principle given support to a federal plan of indefinite detention for convicted terrorists who are likely to reoffend.
The new laws could apply to 13 prisoners serving lengthy sentences in Australian prisons for federal terrorism offenses after several plots were thwarted in Sydney and Melbourne. Several of them have openly voiced support for extremist groups, including the Islamic State group.
The laws could also apply to another 36 suspects who are awaiting trial on serious terrorism charges.
Federal Attorney-General George Brandis said the laws would enable him to apply to a court for a detention order within six months of a convicted terrorist's sentence ending. The attorney-general must prove a high degree of probability that a prisoner would reoffend and pose an unacceptable risk to the community if released.
Such detention orders could be made for a maximum three years, but there would be no limit to how many times the orders could be renewed, Brandis said.
Some states already allow so-called preventative detention of recidivist sex offenders and other dangerous criminals at the discretion of the courts.
Australia has previously announced plans to toughen its response to groups like Islamic State by reducing the age at which courts can issue orders restricting the movements of suspected militants from 16 to 14 years.
This followed a radicalized 15-year-old boy being killed by police moments after he shot dead a civil employee outside the state police headquarters in Sydney in October.