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Are corrupt bankers terrorists?

  • 14 December 2015

There is a new proposal from Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull that those convicted of terrorism offences are to be remanded in jail even after they finish serving their sentences.

While the details are yet to be finalised, this will apparently mirror existing legislation which permits the same thing in the case of pedophiles or violent offenders. The accused, it seems, will not actually have to commit any further terror offences, just be regarded as likely to do so.

While the predatory behaviour of pedophiles is nowadays generally seen as something of an addiction, with a notoriously high rate of recidivism, the same has yet to be shown of 'terrorism' — a crime which has proven very difficult to define in any event.

According to s.100.2 of the Criminal Code, a terrorist act is an act which 'intends to coerce or influence the public or any government to advocate any political, religious or ideological cause' and causes harm or danger to an individual, damage to property, disruption to infrastructure or danger to the public.

The Code casts the net even wider, including 'providing support to' or 'associating with' an organisation which the government lists as a terrorist organisation under the rubric of terrorism offences as well as 'procuring', 'inciting' or 'encouraging' a terrorism offence. 'Acts of preparation' are also included in the Code's purview, including making objects for use in a terrorism offence.

Who actually gets charged with any of these things is, of course, rather subjective in practice. Given that 'disruption' of the banking network is explicitly included in the Act, those who rigged the LIBOR rates or brought about the global financial crisis by reckless trading (recklessly committing a terrorism offence is specifically caught by the Code) could, technically, be charged. The coercion of economic policy is surely every bit as 'ideological' as religious or party political activism in this day and age.

Arguably, so too could those who used the precedent of the GFC bailout to demand the government issue new bailouts for the banks or watch customers get stung with new fees in the face of record profits while playing a major role in raising foreign private debt to 85 per cent of national output (thereby damaging economic stability). But it's very unlikely that that would ever happen.

Even acts which would traditionally be labelled as terrorism if committed in the service of a far-left or other cause do not seem to attract the provisions of