Does Australian law provide any tangible protection for human rights in the context of national security cases? For better or worse, human rights and national security are often portrayed as two social aims locked in an inevitable tug-of-war. In Australian courtrooms, basic rights to procedural fairness, legal counsel, proportionate punishment and so on have been directly undermined by national security legislation. This paper argues that, despite the efforts of many judges, the Australian justice system is ill-equipped to protect human rights from a direct assault justified on national security grounds – even within it’s heartland, the courtroom. Is this simply the price of preventing terrorism, or is there a better way?