If you’ve been anywhere near Brisbane city within recent days the significant increase in the police presence is obvious.
What is not so obvious are the enormous powers those police now have.
Enshrined within the 2013 G20 Safety and Security Act, police now have increased powers to search, detain and acquire personal details from individuals within specific security areas.
These special powers began on the first of this month and will continue until the end of the summit.
Members of protest movements have felt the impact of these changes.
Angus McAllen, National Co-Convenor of Resistance, a socialist youth group, and fellow members were searched within a cafe outside of the declared zone on November 10.
After sitting for half an hour, four police entered the cafe.
“They walked straight in without looking at any other clientele and walked straight up to my two friends and myself,” Mr McAllen said.
Mr McAllen and his friends were then searched; their names, details and identification entered into a database and photos taken of their belongings.
“It was a very awkward and intimidating experience,” Mr McAllen said.
“I’ve never had the police investigate us in this manner. We weren’t committing any crimes.”
Under the Safety and Security Act, actions such as these can be undertaken if the police have reasonable suspicions that a person has committed or is about to commit an offense which is intended to, or may, disrupt the G20 summit, or if that person is or may pose a serious threat to the security o the summit.
The vague justifications for the use of these increase police powers could potentially lead to a legal conflict.
Heather Douglas, a professor of law at The University of Queensland and voluntary independent legal observer at the G20, says that the new legislation might result in some confusion.
“It’s much broader legislation that the police are acting under so some people may no be aware of that when they are involved in protests and there are police coming from interstate who might not be aware of the extent or limits of their power,” Professor Douglas said.
“It’s in the security areas where the Act applies, outside of the security areas normal police powers and responsibilities legislation applies”
Chinchilla Police Senior Constable Michael Parker has had three officers from his team reassigned to Brisbane for the duration of the summit.
He says he is unaware of how well versed his reassigned officers are about the new legislation but is assured it has been discussed with them on an individual basis.
For more information on security areas and the Safety and Security Act, visit the Queensland Police Service website