House debates

Wednesday, 1 October 2014

Questions without Notice

National Security

2:16 pm

Photo of Kelly O'DwyerKelly O'Dwyer (Higgins, Liberal Party) Share this | | Hansard source

My question is to the Minister for Justice. Will the minister update the House on the government's actions to give our federal law enforcement and security agencies the tools they need to combat the terror threat?

Photo of Michael KeenanMichael Keenan (Stirling, Liberal Party, Minister for Justice) Share this | | Hansard source

I thank the member for Higgins for that question and also commend the exceptional work that she does here in this House. The Abbott government, as members would be aware, is making a very significant investment in counter-terrorism and in countering violent extremism, previously announcing $630 million as a response package, and today the Attorney-General George Brandis has announced that $196 million of this will go for extra resourcing for ASIO. Further to this funding, the government is giving our security agencies the legislative frameworks and powers that they need to do their job of keeping us safe.

Earlier on today, we saw the first tranche of this legislation passed through the House. This bill comprehensively modernises and improves legislation governing the activities of the Australian intelligence community. This legislation has been put through a very significant amount of community consultation including two bipartisan reviews by the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security. The committee recommended 16 targeted improvements to enhance oversight, accountability and other safeguards and the government accepted every single one of these recommendations. I commend the member for Wannon for the work that he did in chairing that inquiry and chairing that committee. I also commend the work of the member for Holt who previously chaired that committee before the government changed.

I appreciate that not all members in this House support the passage of this legislation and, clearly, in a democracy they are entitled to express their views. But what is not acceptable is to engage in or encourage conspiracy theories that the law enforcement and intelligence agencies in this country somehow collude with the government about the timing of their operations. This is untrue, and it is deeply unhelpful at a time when every member in this place should be mindful that their comments will be extensively reported to the Australian community, and we should all stand together with our law enforcement and intelligence agencies in the work that they continue to do to keep us safe.

I had the privilege earlier today of joining with the Prime Minister to announce that Mr Andrew Colvin will be recommended to the Governor-General as the next Commissioner of the Australian Federal Police. He is a man of enormous integrity, intellect and judgement and the country will be very well served by his stewardship of that organisation in what is a very challenging time. The passage of this legislation today through the House, notwithstanding that not every member of this House supported it, and the appointment of Mr Colvin as Commissioner of the Australian Federal Police, are two measures that will continue to keep our country and our community safe.