Monday, 22 October 2018
Defence Amendment (Call Out of the Australian Defence Force) Bill 2018; Second Reading
The scourge of terrorism, tragically, seems to be an all-too-common theme in our daily news cycle. That's why Labor supports this bill, because we understand that it is crucial to ensure our national security arrangements are kept up to date and responsive to the environment. We have an obligation to keep our communities safe, to keep Australia safe and to protect the freedoms that we enjoy in our society, and, to do that, we need to ensure our systems, our methods and our responses are kept up to date in response to the scourge, as I said, of terrorism that we face, tragically, too often, almost on a daily basis.
This bill, the Defence Amendment (Call Out of the Australian Defence Force) Bill 2018, addresses that commitment to keeping Australians safe, keeping our nation safe, and protecting our freedoms. That is why it, like most areas of national security, has bipartisan support. In July 2017, the government announced a number of measures to enhance the support provided by the Australian Defence Force for national counterterrorism arrangements, and this bill is part of those measures. The Defence Act 1903, as it currently stands, outlines two types of call-out powers: an order for the Australian Defence Force to be called out immediately and a contingent call-out order whereby the ADF can be called out if specified circumstances arise. The Defence Amendment (Call Out of the Australian Defence Force) Bill amends that act to make it easier for states and territories to request ADF support; to simplify, expand and clarify the ADF's powers; to enhance the ADF's ability to respond to incidents occurring in more than one jurisdiction or across jurisdictions; and to allow for preauthorisation for the ADF to respond to threats on land, at sea and in the air, typically used as part of measures during major events such as the G20 or Commonwealth Games. State and territory police forces will remain the first responders to terrorist incidents and a call out of the ADF will only be able to be considered following a request by the state or territory.
This bill will help us respond quickly and appropriately to terrorist attacks, should they happen here in Australia. The threat is real, and the threat is now. Tragically, that is the reality for everyone throughout the world, which is why we need to be as responsive as possible and our legislation and regulations need to be as up to date as possible. In Australia, a terrorist attack is defined as an act that intends to coerce or influence by intimidation, death or danger to a person, property or the public and serious interference with, disruption to or the destruction of critical infrastructure, such as telecommunications or electricity networks. As the shadow assistant minister for cybersecurity and defence, this last point is something I am particularly interested in. In fact, it has become a bit of an obsession of mine—that is, the interference, disruption or destruction of our critical infrastructure through cyberattacks.
The Australian Cyber Security Centre's Threat report 2017 noted that CERT Australia responded to 734 incidents affecting private-sector systems of national critical infrastructure in 2016-17. This equates to significant cyber incidents occurring on these networks more than twice a day. Critical infrastructure sectors are vital to Australia's social cohesion, our economic prosperity and our public safety. They're the facilities and services that keep our hospitals operating, our homes heated, our lights on and our stores stocked. They are the facilities that keep our water running, our water clean and safe and our economy operating. The disruption of this infrastructure—either from physical or cyber-related threats—can have a serious impact on our national security, our social cohesion, our economic prosperity, our economic stability and the stability and security of the nation.
Unfortunately, Australia only addresses four sectors as being at the highest risk in the last act that was passed by the parliament a couple of months ago. We have eight other sectors that have been identified in the TISN, but unfortunately only four sectors were actually covered in the act that passed through the parliament—that is, on the bill that was debated by the government. I do regard that as a significant lost opportunity. The sectors that were discussed in that bill were electricity, water, gas and ports. Each of these sectors has experienced some form of cyberthreat in the past 12 months.
As I said when I was speaking on that bill, while we've got those four sectors that have been the subject of cyberthreats over the last 12 months, we also have the eight sectors that are identified elsewhere. These sectors are very underdone when it comes to the rest of the world. We have a focus on these critical infrastructure sectors. There are eight that we've identified that are crucial to our social cohesion, our economic stability, our prosperity and our democracy. Only four of the eight were actually included in the bill that went through just recently. The eight is a good start. Having only the four, as I said, it was a lost opportunity that the government had with that act that we debated just recently. We really do need to be starting to take the cybersecurity and the physical security of our critical infrastructure seriously. I think we can start doing that by broadening out what we classify as critical infrastructure. In the United Kingdom they've identified 13 sectors that they regard to be critical infrastructure—that is, infrastructure that is vital to the social cohesion, economic prosperity and stability of that nation. In the United States, they have 16 sectors that they've identified as absolutely critical to cohesion, stability, security and prosperity. Canada has identified 10 sectors and Singapore has identified 11 sectors. Here in Australia, as I said, we're a bit underdone in that we've got only eight sectors.
The sectors recognised by these nations that aren't necessarily recognised here include emergency services, information technology, chemicals manufacturing and electoral systems, and it's this last sector that I want to focus on. At the least, electoral systems in Australia should be treated as critical infrastructure, particularly after what we've seen in the United States and in France. We hear throughout the world, whenever an election is held, of fake news and attacks on systems. We need our democracy to be protected. We need people to maintain trust in the way our democracy and our electoral systems and processes are run. They have got to have trust and faith in the underpinnings of our democracy, which are our electoral systems—election days, the ballot system. They have got to have trust and faith in the way we conduct elections and the way the results are collated and published. They need to have trust in the integrity of those electoral systems.
In the US, they've acknowledged that their electoral systems are vital to social cohesion and to their democracy, which is why electoral systems have been recognised in the US as a critical infrastructure sector. I do encourage the government to consider including electoral systems among Australia's critical infrastructure sectors. I also encourage the government to broaden out our list of critical infrastructure sectors to make it more up-to-date and more in keeping with those of other nations, particularly our like-mindeds. As I've said, eight is pretty underdone, and recognising only four in the critical infrastructure bill was a significant missed opportunity, as was the fact that cybersecurity wasn't actually mentioned in that bill. There was no mention of cybersecurity despite the fact that cyberthreats pose as much risk to our critical infrastructure as physical threats do.
We need to think beyond just the protection of critical infrastructure from a physical perspective. We need to start thinking about the protection of critical infrastructure from a cybersecurity perspective, and we've got to start taking our critical infrastructure seriously. It's not enough only to protect the physical safety of our critical infrastructure, or to partially list those services and facilities that are vital to our cohesion, economic prosperity and public safety, or to ignore international cybersecurity standards, or to pretend that threats end where the supply chain starts.
The terrorist attacks that are addressed through this bill are not just about threats to our buildings and infrastructure. They're also threats to our way of life. The threats come not just through physical attacks but also through cyberattacks, which is why we need to start thinking more broadly about threats to this nation, not just in the kinetic sense but also in the cybersense.
In the past four years, 84 people have been charged with terrorism related offences in Australia. We know that it is real and it is now. According to the National Terrorism Threat Advisory System, it is classified as 'probable'. This bill will give our Defence Force the ability to address this probable threat. It will make it easier for states and territories to request ADF support; it will simplify, clarify and expand on the ADF's powers; and it will allow the ADF to respond to multiple incidents across different jurisdictions. It will increase Australia's security in the event of an act of violence here.
That's why Labor supports this bill. The security of our nation is at the forefront of everything we do here, and this bill will continue to lead us in the right direction to ensure a safe, secure and prosperous nation.
Can I thank the member for Canberra for her contribution and say how important it is that we acknowledge the work she's been doing and continues to do in the cybersecurity domain. It's an area about which she has a great depth of detailed knowledge. She's provided us with advice here this afternoon on the need to think about how we concern ourselves with and how we define critical infrastructure. I think that we need to comprehend her advice. The member for Canberra pointed to the election processes and the interferences that have been noted elsewhere, internationally. We shouldn't discount the possibility that that sort of interference could happen here, effectively eroding, potentially, the confidence of our community in our democratic processes. Therefore it is really important that we acknowledge the potential for these sorts of cyberterrorist attacks, as they are.
We need to understand that, whilst the Defence Amendment (Call Out of the Australian Defence Force) Bill 2018 deals with role of the ADF, the ADF does have capacity in this space. Indeed, the leaders in cyber research and knowledge have historically rested in the defence community. We need to acknowledge that and understand that they have the skills, capacity, background and intellectual horsepower to be able to provide the nation advice on these and related issues. I want to thank the member for Canberra for her contribution and for making sure that we understand that the sorts of issues which she talked about to us are issues about which we should all be thinking.
We know already that, in the cybersecurity space, the commercial world have started to recognise—belatedly, really—the importance of cyberdefence of their own systems. The government plays a very important catalytic role in making sure that they get the right advice around those issues, emanating from the central agencies here in Canberra. But we need to acknowledge, as they do now, how important cyberinterference could be in terms of our economy, and we need to comprehend what that means. Think of the power systems in this country. Think of the water systems in this country. All of them could potentially be hacked by some cyberfreak. We need to know that that sort of terrorist activity could come from an international source, or it could even, indeed, come locally. So having our cybersecurity framework properly set in place and understanding its role in preventing cyberterrorism are extremely important.
I know that the intelligence community is fully aware of this. I know that we can have confidence in the capacity of our cybersecurity networks, but we need to make sure that we're aware of the potential for things to happen, and I don't think everyone is really aware of it. So I want to thank again the member for Canberra for her very important contribution. Thank you.
In the second reading speech for this piece of legislation which is before us, the Defence Amendment (Call Out of the Australian Defence Force) Bill 2018, the minister made, I think, some very relevant and pertinent observations. As he said and we on this side of the House accept—we're supporting the legislation—'police and other emergency services are, and will remain, our first responders' to terrible local events. We have, as the minister pointed out in his second reading speech, 'a broad continuum of operational response to terrorist attacks spanning from general duties police to the specialist members of the ADF'. As he further pointed out, the actions of these first responders 'can have the greatest impact' in terms of saving lives and neutralising any threat in these instances. We acknowledge, as the minister said in his speech:
Each state and territory police force has specially trained personnel who have expert capabilities to respond to terrorist attacks, but they sometimes need additional support—
and it's that support that the ADF, with its expertise, can properly provide. We know, as the minister says in his second reading speech, that the ADF's primary responsibility in terms of counterterrorism is offshore, but the ADF, as many will know, has the personnel, the resources, the capacity and very much specialist sets of skills that can assist our emergency services to respond in the event of a terrorist attack.
I think it's very important that we in this parliament, let alone the general community, acknowledge the depth of training in particular parts of the ADF; their knowledge, as I have outlined; their expertise and their professionalism, which, internationally, is really above par. There may be one or two defence forces in the world that have such highly trained technicians as we have in this country, but I doubt it. We can be very pleased and proud of the capacity which has been developed by our Defence Force and Defence Force systems, including those civilians who work in the defence space and provide technical and other advice and expertise. We can have a great deal of confidence in their capacity.
As I alluded to earlier, as a minister previously I had responsibility for Defence Science and Technology Organisation. Let there be no doubt about the capacity and knowledge of those people, their expertise and their capacity to research and provide solutions to the types of really difficult problems for which we need to have confidence that they can. Most of what they do is unknown to many and will remain unknown. But I can say from my own observations, experience and knowledge is that what they do is very, very important. They have the scientific engineering and other skills that are required to develop responses on our behalf, and they do. So I think it is very important that we acknowledge that capacity and capability
But, more broadly, we need to see that our defence forces have specialist capabilities such as tactical assault forces; chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear response and recovery. These skill sets have been developed by informed work over many years by our defence forces, working in collaboration in many instances with partners in universities and indeed, in some cases, in the private sector. But the IP, the intellectual grunt, has largely been driven out of the Department of Defence and its organisations, and we need to be aware of that. They're well beyond the sorts of skill sets that you would expect to find in the police force in any jurisdiction in this country. So, understanding that, it's no surprise that we should be contemplating this legislation to ensure that Defence is able, when required, to contribute effectively to domestic counterterrorism efforts. It is in that context that we feel very confident in supporting this legislation.
I will just go to the explanatory memorandum of the bill to explain very briefly its purpose. The explanatory memorandum says:
2. The amendments contained in the Bill will implement the recommendations from the Review of Defence Support to National Counter-Terrorism Arrangements , and complement efforts to enhance the Australian Defence Force's (ADF) posture and capability to respond to incidents of domestic violence and terrorism. The amendments will also implement measures to enhance the ability of the ADF to support state and territory law enforcement agencies in responding to domestic violence.
3. In broad terms, the purpose of the amendments is to streamline the legal procedures for call out of the ADF and to enhance the ability of the ADF to protect states, self-governing territories, and Commonwealth interests, onshore and offshore, against domestic violence, including terrorism.
The Department of Defence has already implemented a number of very important initiatives to provide greater practical support for state and territory law enforcement agencies, including but not limited to an enhanced counterterrorism liaison network, an enhanced program of asbestos training activities and streamlined police access to defence facilities such as ranges.
This piece of legislation will amend the Defence Act to: make it easier for states and territories to request ADF support; simplify, expand and clarify the ADF's powers; enhance the ADF's ability to respond to incidents occurring in more than one jurisdiction or across jurisdictions; and allow for pre-authorisation for the ADF to respond to threats on land, on sea and in the air, typically used as part of measures during major events such as the G20 meeting or the Commonwealth Games.
It's important that we acknowledge, though, that, even despite what I said earlier, the first responders will remain territory and state police forces. That is really very important. They will be the first responders to any terrorist incidents. The call-out of the ADF will only be able to be considered following a request by a state or territory. I think that needs to be understood. The context of this legislation is very much a secondary role to the primary responders, who are the state jurisdictions.
The four principles which underpin the proposed changes to call-out provisions are these. The ADF should only be called out to assist civilian authorities if, when the ADF is called out, civilian authorities remain paramount. The ADF members remain under military command. When called out, ADF members can only use force that is reasonable and necessary in all the circumstances. Importantly—and this needs to be comprehended—ADF personnel remain subject to the law and are accountable for their actions. So that's the framework, and it's very important that we appreciate that framework. First responders are the state and territory police, and the ADF personnel will be required to remain subject to the law and accountable for their actions. That is something which I know many people will take a great sense of security from.
I don't intend to go through each of the four headings, but there will be an increase in the requirement for the ADF to consult with state and territory police when it's operating in their jurisdictions. It's very important that that communication framework exists and is open. An additional matter in this legislation will be adding the Minister for Home Affairs as a named alternative authorising minister for the expedited call-out.
This is a very important piece of legislation for this country. It gives us a contemporary set of arrangements designed to meet contemporary circumstances—those of today and into the future—and I'm very pleased to be able to support the legislation.
I would like to acknowledge my colleagues the member for Canberra and the member for Lingiari for their considerable contributions and expert knowledge. Firstly, I would also like to acknowledge the serving members in my electorate of Herbert who last week participated in a welcome home parade to mark their return from overseas deployment. Your service to this nation is truly valued and appreciated and we are grateful for the work that you undertake. I am personally thankful that you have returned home safely to your families. I also want to particularly thank your families, who all too often are not acknowledged for the sacrifices they make whilst you are deployed overseas. It is because of these brave men and women that we live in one of the best democracies in the world. Whenever I speak with current serving members, they always acknowledge the fact that they could not do the work they do without the support of their families. So an additional acknowledgement to family members is needed in this place.
There is no greater responsibility for every member in this place than keeping Australians safe. When it comes to fighting terrorism and Islamic terrorism, we are all in this together. Terror is random, unpredictable and alien to our values, our faiths and our way of life. Yet, we have come to recognise a pattern and a ritual. We light up our landmarks and our candles. We share stories of heroism and survival. We send sympathy and we stand in solidarity. There is absolute value and merit in all of this activity. But unity in grief is not enough. We owe those who have lost their lives defending our freedoms more than mourning. We have a responsibility to see justice done and to ensure that terrorism is prevented, defeated and eliminated. We must defeat terrorism on the open battlefield abroad.
Both sides of this parliament support the international coalition mission in Iraq and Syria. Both sides of this parliament support, admire and salute the men and women of the Australian Defence Force who put their lives on the line in our country's name for the causes of freedom and peace. Important progress is being made against the so-called Islamic State. Its territory is being eroded, its resources depleted. Australia is doing its fair share as a good international citizen to deny safe havens for terrorists, restricting their ability to export violence. We must continue to work closely with our allies and friends around the world to neutralise the transnational efforts of extremist groups, including choking off their financial and communication capabilities. We need a renewed focus on cyberthreats, from attacks on government institutions, breaches of individual privacy, identity theft, industrial espionage and interference in elections. We must ensure that our agencies and security personnel are properly supported, equipped, funded and paid for the important work that they do for all Australians.
In the fight against terrorism, we must all play a part—governments and opposition at every level. That is why I stand here today with my Labor colleagues to support this bill, the Defence Amendment (Call Out of the Australian Defence Force) Bill 2018. It is so important to make sure our national security arrangements are kept up to date to keep Australians safe and protect the freedoms that make our society what it is today.
In July 2017, the government announced a number of measures to enhance the support provided by the ADF for the national counterterrorism arrangements. The Department of Defence has already implemented a number of initiatives to provide greater practical support for state and territory law enforcement agencies, including an enhanced counterterrorism liaison network, an enhanced program of specialist training activities and streamlined police access to Defence facilities such as ranges. This bill is part of those measures announced in 2017.
The Defence Act 1903, as it currently stands, outlines two types of call-out orders: an order for the ADF to be called out immediately or a contingent call-out order, whereby the ADF can be called out if specified circumstances arise. There are four principles which underpin the proposed changes to call-out provisions. The ADF should only be called out to assist civilian authorities. If the ADF is called out, civilian authorities remain paramount, but the ADF members remain under military command. When called out, ADF members can only use force that is reasonable and necessary in all circumstances. ADF personnel remain subject to the law and are accountable for their actions. These principles are important and have guided the necessary changes outlined in this bill.
The Defence Amendment (Call Out of the Australian Defence Force) Bill 2018 amends the Defence Act on four points. Firstly, the bill will make it easier for states and territories to request ADF support. Currently, the Defence Act prevents the ADF from being called out until such time as states and territories are not, or are unlikely to be, able to protect themselves or Commonwealth interests against domestic violence. The amendments provide a more flexible and responsible threshold that requires ministers to consider the nature of the violence or threat and whether calling out the ADF would be likely to enhance the state or territory's ability to respond to the threat. This amendment bill will allow greater flexibility for the ADF to provide the most rapid, effective and appropriate specialist support in responding to terrorist incidents while at the same time respecting the states and territories' position as first responders. The state and territory police forces will remain the first responders to terrorist incidents, and call-out of the ADF will only be able to be considered following a request from the state or territory.
Secondly, the bill will simplify, expand and clarify the ADF's powers. The bill simplifies, expands and clarifies the ADF's search and seizure powers when they are operating under a call-out order. This means that ADF personnel will be authorised to search for and seize items and search for and detain people that are likely to pose a threat to a person's life, health and safety or to public health or safety generally. Currently, the ADF search powers in specified areas focus predominantly on dangerous things and do not authorise them to search for and detain people.
Thirdly, it enhances the ADF's ability to respond to multiple incidents occurring in more than one jurisdiction or across jurisdictions, as well as to incidents which cross jurisdictional boundaries, including offshore.
Finally, the bill will allow for pre-authorisation for the ADF to respond to threats on land, at sea and in the air. Typically used as part of measures during major events such as the G20 or the Commonwealth Games, pre-authorised or contingent call-out allows ministers to pre-authorise the ADF to respond if specific circumstances arise. Currently, contingent call-out is limited to the protection of Commonwealth interests from air threats. This type of contingent call-out order has been regularly made as part of security measures to protect major Commonwealth events such as the G20, the ASEAN summit and the Commonwealth Games from air threats. The bill will extend contingent call-out to be available for the protection of both Commonwealth interests and state and territory interests from threats in the land, air and maritime domains. The purpose of this amendment is to remove potential delays in seeking ministerial authorisation for ADF support once a threat is considered imminent or immediately after the event occurs. It will also provide additional support options in planning for major events such as the ASEAN Special Summit or the G20.
The bill also contains a number of provisions in support of those amendments outlined above, including an increase in the requirement for the ADF to consult with state and territory police where it is operating in their jurisdiction, and adding the Minister for Home Affairs as a named alternative authorising minister for expedited call-out.
Defeating the scourge of terrorism demands our every effort, our total energy and our complete unity of purpose—unity in this parliament through continued thoughtful bipartisan cooperation; unity in the nation, working with the Muslim community to identify people at risk of radicalisation and prevent them from heading down a path of, sadly, no return; unity in the region, where we face the ongoing challenge of returning foreign fighters driven out of the Middle East by the efforts of Australian forces, among others; and unity with other free nations, standing against terrorism's assault on the rights of their citizens to live in peace and security. I am the member who represents the largest garrison city in this country. These changes are important to allow those serving men and women to do what they do best: serve and protect this great nation. I am very proud to support this bill.
There are a lot of freedoms and rights that we enjoy in Australia that make us the stable, peaceful democracy that we are. Indeed, so desired are we as a place to live that so many people around the world want to come here and live here. A big part of that is that there are, unlike in a number of other countries, a number of basic freedoms that we can all take for granted. When we respond to threats to Australia, we need to be careful that we don't pass legislation that actually takes away some of those rights and freedoms. In this instance, with the Defence Amendment (Call Out of the Australian Defence Force) Bill 2018, where we're dealing with a bill that brings about a very significant shift in the role of the military in Australia, this is a time for careful and considered discussion, for nuance and for restrictions to make sure that our freedoms are in fact defended.
In Australia, we are not used to seeing the military on our streets. We're used to seeing a police force on our streets and we accept that as a community; but we are not used, as they are in many other countries, to seeing the military out on the streets. That's because we have a clear understanding in this country that the police have the role of preserving law and order domestically, whereas our military—our defence forces—are trained to do a different job. They're trained to defend the country. They're trained to go overseas and fight wars or they're trained to defend us should we be attacked here. They're trained in a very different matter. Police forces will have an emphasis on keeping the peace. In the military, in a conflict situation, it is a very, very different environment and you are trained for different things and for different objectives.
As is the case in this bill, if we have legislation that comes to us that says, 'We now want to expand the circumstances in which the military can be put onto the streets in Australia,' you would expect that there would be some very significant checks and balances in there, you would expect that it would be very highly restricted and you would expect that it was there to deal proportionately with threats that we are facing. You might expect, given what you've heard some speakers say on this bill so far, that this bill—which allows for the call-out of military personnel and the defence forces into the streets in Australia—was limited to terrorism or had some role in relation to cybersecurity attacks. If that was the case, we might be able to have a debate about it.
Given that this bill arose out of an inquiry dealing with the Lindt siege and some problems that were found there with our laws allowing for the call-out of certain forces, is it there a definition of terrorism or does this bill pick up existing definitions and does this bill talk about the limited instances in which we could call personnel out? That's not what this bill does at all. Every speaker so far has used the threat of terrorism to justify this bill. Pretty much everyone in Australia would want to make sure that we are in a position to deal with threats of terrorism. But this bill goes much further. This bill allows the call-out of the ADF onto our streets not when there's terrorism and not when there's even exceptional circumstances but when there's so-called 'specified' circumstances. That is not even defined in the bill.
That should give a lot of people some great cause for concern. When all of a sudden, now at the whim of a minister or of a government, the military can be called out onto our streets and there's virtually no restriction—legally, in the bill—on how and when that could happen, that should give people grave cause for concern. That's why the Law Council of Australia has said that they are very, very concerned that, under the proposed sections 33 and 35 of the bill, it raises the risk that:
… ministers will feel it necessary to call out defence forces, on a routine basis, in order to enhance the State or Territory's ability to protect itself or Commonwealth interests without exceptional circumstances …
Now, given everything that people have said so far in speaking to this bill — that the government and the opposition are on another unity ticket — there should be no reason we can't amend this bill to limit the ability to call out the Defence Force to exceptional circumstances only . That should cover all the instances that they've raised—but no.
Allow ing this wide-ranging ability to bring the Defence Force out onto our streets is something that most people in this country would not agree with if they knew it was happening. And this is not in any way a slight either to our police forces, who are currently doing this job, or to the defence forces who are being referred to in the bill. It ' s about us as parliamentarians deciding what is the dividing line between the two , and in what instances we think it is okay to become one of those countries where it's the military that is on the streets doing the policing . I would argue, and I think most people in the country would argue , that you would want that to happen in only the rarest of circumstances and you would want there to be some significant checks and balances on ministers who do that so that the Defence Force is not call ed out whe n there's a big disturbance that some might characterise as a protest , that it's not called out because it's seen that there is a threat to a way a particular business is operating— that it's only used in legitimate circumstances. But that's not what this bill does.
That is why t he Law Council is ringing the alarm bells about this bill and saying, to paraphrase them , that we're potentially about to trade off some of the rights that this bill is supposedly about defending. And it goes further in that respect. Under this bill, w hen the defence forces are called out , they will have the power to take away a number of our civil liberties. For example, you lose the right to silence in a number of respects , a nd personnel who are called out are able to demand that you answer certain questions and do certain things. Again, maybe in an emergency situation, in an exceptional situation, that's something the Australian public would accept. But the bill isn't limited to that ; it's basically limited to whenever the minister wants, more or less. G iven that huge breadth, is it right that , when that provision is triggered by a federal government or by a state government, all of a sudden as a citizen you lose some of your right to silence ? Again , I think, if people knew that that was what is being proposed here, they wouldn't agree with that either. But that's what we're being asked to support.
It's something that, again, the Law Council, together with Lawyers f or Human Rights, have said should be amended in this bill. It should be narrowed, given the grave threat to our civil liberties and to our human rights that are in the bill . I stress the point : most people in this country are up for the discussion about whether we've got the balance right. But what is really worrying is when governments use horrific incidents to then engage in a process of overreach and say, ' The only thing that will prevent that happening again in the future is to trade away your rights in a variety of other respects. '
Again I make the point that this bill is not limited to terrorism. This bill is not limited to terrorism. It's expansive, and it covers a very, very broad range of situations. Not only is there the power to force people to answer questions, the loss of the right to silence; it goes together with the power to have your property seized and your personal liberty restricted. That's in an instance where there is a threat to a person's health or safety — not where there's a terrorist threat to the nation but whe re someone could potentially be seen as inconvenienced. It doesn't even need to be a threat to someone's life; i t's a threat to someone's safety. When that threshold is met, you lose your rights then as well.
It goes further, because it grant s Defence Force personnel a much greater range of legal protection s for activities that might even be outside the purpose for which they were called out. What does that mean? It means that , if a member of the Defence Force is called out to deal with a certain threat and they exercise force as part of being called out, they would gain a much greater level of immunity for the exercise of that force than, say, members of the police force, depending on which state or territory you're in.
So that, again, has attracted the concern of the Law Council of Australia. They have made what I think is a very sensible recommendation, which is: let's limit that to minor or technical noncompliance with the obligations that are set out in the intent of the bill. That would seem to make a lot of sense, given that, if you listen to some of the speeches in support of it, they're saying, 'There should be instances in which—for example, where someone forgets to wear their name badge—even though it's something they might be required to do, they shouldn't lose their protection just because they haven't done that.' Well, if that's what the bill is about, let's limit it to that.
But what this does is something much, much broader. For example, there could be an exercise of violence in this situation where someone is called out; it might be inadvertent; it could result in someone being seriously injured or dying. You may have no recourse in that situation because of the effect of this bill.
Again, most people would be up for a discussion about it. We understand that, in situations, for example, where there are legitimate acts of terrorism, people are required to make decisions very quickly, and people are doing it to protect life, limb and property. Most people in Australia are up for a discussion of and understanding about the difficulties of acting in that situation. We just need to think back to the Lindt siege.
But what people aren't up for is the removal of the checks and balances that allow us to have the confidence in our institutions that we currently have. There's a simple answer to that, which is: listen to what people like the Law Council are saying when they say that this bill trades away many of the rights that it is supposed to defend, or it is there to allow our Defence Force defend us from attacks, and go back and have another look at getting the balance right, because there are a number of experts in the field who've looked at the drafting and said, 'No. This goes much, much broader than what its stated purpose is. It goes much, much broader than terrorism.'
The reason this is so significant—and here I come back to the point that I made at the start—is that not only do you, as an individual citizen, lose a lot of your own rights when the provisions of this bill are triggered, but it allows a line to be crossed. This bill allows a line to be crossed, where it's not the police on our streets who are keeping law and order but the military.
We can and we should continue to have debates in this House about when our military are deployed overseas. I and the Greens have argued for some time that we should have a parliamentary debate before we deploy troops overseas. It should come here, at a minimum, to parliament, and parliament should be involved in the process, as is the case with many other democracies. And there's a lot of support for that. I understand that there are some arguments against it, but there is a lot of public support for the idea that we should have that debate here.
I think people would want the standard to be even higher when it comes to calling out the military on our own streets not because we're calling them out to deal with a crisis from a natural disaster—and those crises are going to become all the more common under climate change—but when we're calling them out to deal with another kind of incident. I think people would want to know that we haven't crossed the line to the point where it becomes, potentially, normal to have that happen—where, in response to a law and order issue, it becomes normal to call out the military onto our streets. But that is the road that this bill is taking us down, the Law Council and others are telling us.
The bill should not pass in its current form. The drafters should go back and pare it back to what they say is its intention. Let's deal with exceptional circumstances. Let's limit the ability to remove people's rights. If the government is serious that that's what it's all about, then they should have no objection to doing that. So, in its current form, this bill cannot be supported.
I rise to continue the opposition's responsible support for the Defence Amendment (Call Out of the Australian Defence Force) Bill 2018. I was particularly interested in the very specific suggestion from the member for Canberra that this bill should actually be wider and take into consideration other critical infrastructure, apart from the four mentioned in the bill. I thought it was very wise of her, having concentrated so much on the effect of cybersecurity attacks in Australia and cybersecurity warfare generally, to mention the electoral systems as being critical infrastructure.
We have seen claims from many countries that their electoral systems have been interfered with various hostile non-democratic powers. I was recently in France and had the great pleasure of introducing Senator Pauline Hanson to a young Muslim member of the National Assembly who was moving responsible legislation to restrict the Russian Federation from interfering in the French elections in the future as they had done recently to try and influence the candidacy of Mr Macron. It was a sort of piquant moment to point out to someone who was 'so uncritical' of all Muslims that here was a young responsible member of the National Assembly doing her bit for the security of democracy in France.
Other countries have similar systems to that that is being legislated at the moment in relation to the ability to call out members of the defence forces in specific circumstances. There are countries in Europe which, regrettably for them, have to access the power of the military more often because they've had terrible terrorist attacks on their citizenry. Other countries that have similar legislation to this that I have been able to discover at short notice are Canada, Italy, Denmark and the United Kingdom. The United States has very longstanding laws against the US military which serves overseas being called out onto US streets. But, of course, the US has the National Guard, which can be, and indeed has been, deployed in terrorist incidents. That's the American way of dealing with their quaint constitution and the burgeoning issue of terrorist attacks in the United States.
I also took very seriously the comments of the members for Lingiari and Herbert—which, in most part, answer the member for Melbourne's criticisms—that there are very specific rules that govern the military's behaviour if they are called out in these circumstances. These are restrictions which democratic countries like Australia would support. The member for Canberra pointed out the context locally of this and other laws on counter-terrorism. They include the fact that there are 80 people currently being charged with terrorism and that the level of terrorist attacks in Australia is probable. These are all circumstances that we haven't brought about, that we don't like and that we wish never occurred but that responsible governments of all kinds have to face up to.
There's a further piece of context to this particular amendment that's quite regrettable. That is the report of the coroner and the widespread media reporting of the New South Wales reaction to the Lindt cafe siege. Frankly, I would think that most Australians would have much preferred the highly professional Australian military to have handled those circumstances. Can you imagine circumstances in which the commander of the terrorist situation went home to sleep? Can you believe that stun grenades were thrown by the police forces against closed doors? Can you believe that there were no operational telephone lines operating between the commanders and the people at the coalface? Can you believe that there was failure to have modern breach equipment to get into the cafe to save all of the poor Australians who were there, including the two people who were killed, who were just doing their normal business and should not have been victims of that person who should have been arrested and long been in jail?
Given the member for Melbourne's comments, this has further context. The member for Melbourne represents the Greens political party, which has voted, as far as I can work out, against every proposal in this place and in the Senate to protect the safety of Australians against the threat of terrorism and Jihadists in and out of Australia. Currently, we have the problem of the return of former foreign fighters, and that's determined by the rule of law, and a consideration, of course, is given to children who are returning from a declared war zone. We also have a non-partisan concern, or maybe it's a bipartisan concern, about the few Australians, probably about a hundred, who are seeking to leave Australia to fight in Iraq or Syria. They're being denied a passport, I think with support of both sides of parliament, and, therefore, denied the right to travel to those countries. We've got to be tough on these combatants seeking to return, to protect the safety of all Australians, which should be our No. 1 priority.
As I said before, the Greens party, as with their opposition to this legislation, has fought every attempt in this parliament over the years that I have been here to face up to these responsibilities. As I said again, we did not seek these circumstances. Australia or Australians are the potential victims. We did not seek this increase in terrorist circumstances, but we as a responsible parliament must face up to it. Even before the Batman by-election, which the Labor Party thankfully won, you would have thought that the Greens political party would have been a bit more cautious and shown a bit more responsibility. No. Their leader, Senator Di Natale, insisted on the ABC's Q&A that foreign fighters and jihadists be allowed to return to Australia. The Greens party chief described these people as 'good people who've made mistakes'. They are not. They are the enemies of Australia and people who are a risk to ordinary citizens who want to go about their lives in peace and security. The most fundamental human right that all of us have is the right to safety and the sanctity of human life. If anyone, for some gratuitous overseas political reason or some ideology that goes back to the 6th century, says that they have the right to kill Australians, I say this parliament has to do everything possible to make sure that we address those new circumstances and defend our fellow Australians.
I want to make this point particularly clear to my electorate. During every weekend hundreds of volunteers in my electorate work to protect the safety and security of local institutions. These people are selfless. They work very closely with the Victorian police and they've been highly successful—I won't go into details—in preventing even attacks in Melbourne. We've seen recently—there is a court case ongoing at the moment—that three people planned a terrorist attack on Flinders Street station and St Paul's Cathedral in Christmas 2016. These threats are ongoing, extant, and very, very local as far as we're concerned. It should be crystal clear to the voters of Melbourne Ports, which will be renamed Macnamara, that there is a key difference between the Labor Party and the Greens political party at the next election. One is a responsible party that has, of course, a huge range of views on domestic matters that are different from those of the government but is responsible and wants to protect their circumstances, their safety and their lives. Unfortunately, we must address, and we do address with this amendment bill, circumstances that Australia and Australians didn't generate. We need this Defence Force legislation for the reasons that they have such legislation in so many countries overseas, because of changed circumstances.
In my electorate, if you want to vote for a responsible political party at the next election, it's absolutely clear that anyone who does not support this or other antiterrorist legislation cannot be voted for without it saying that the lives of people whom they live amongst are unimportant and only the political ideologies of the Greens political party—
and their others are important. The safety of all Australians is important. While the member for Melbourne calls me a grub, I'm proud to stand up for the 95 per cent of Australians, in my seat and in all the rest of Australia, who think antiterrorist legislation, including this bill, is important.
I'd like to begin, Mr Deputy Speaker Andrews, by recognising your interest, in particular, in this bill given your former role as Minister for Defence. Also, in the spirit of the Invictus Games, which are occurring right now in Sydney, I want to recognise and thank all serving ADF members for their service to our nation.
I thank my parliamentary colleagues for their contributions to the debate on the Defence Amendment (Call Out of the Australian Defence Force) Bill 2018. I also thank the opposition for its support for the important amendments in the bill. The amendments are the most significant changes to the Australian Defence Force's call-out powers, under part IIIAAA of the Defence Act 1903, since the provisions were enacted in 2000 in the lead-up to the Sydney Olympics.
The contemporary terrorist threat environment is more complex than the threat Australia faced when part IIIAAA was introduced almost 20 years ago. It's characterised by the threat of highly mobile attackers that move quickly across large areas. The recent events in Borough Market, London, and at the Bataclan theatre in Paris are illustrative of this type of attack. At the same time, the Manchester bombing showed that attacks and threats related to the use of explosive devices continue to pose a significant risk. The amendments will ensure that the ADF is better able to respond effectively to this contemporary terrorist threat.
I'd like to respond briefly to the member for Melbourne, who said the bill would see ministers calling out the ADF on a routine basis. Of course that is not correct. States and territories will retain responsibility, as first responders, for domestic security incidents, and the threshold limits the ADF's role to augmenting that response in the most serious of circumstances, such as a terrorist incident.
I would note that in the debate on the bill a number of my parliamentary colleagues stated that these amendments were developed in response to the Lindt cafe siege. I'd like to clarify that the bill was not developed in direct response to the Lindt cafe siege. The review of Defence's support to national counterterrorism arrangements, announced by the government in July 2017, was initiated in response to the changing nature of the terrorist threat, as seen in the terrorist attacks in Paris, Brussels and Ankara. The coroner's report on the Lindt cafe siege, and the subsequent attacks in London and Manchester, added context to the review. The amendments will ensure that the ADF is better able to respond effectively to the current and future terrorist threat environment. The bill will enhance the ability of the ADF to support state and territory police in responding to incidents of significant violence occurring in Australia, including terrorism.
Under the amendments, states and territories will continue to have primary responsibility for protecting life and property in their jurisdictions. State and territory police forces are well equipped to respond to domestic terrorism incidents and play a primary role as first responders within minutes of an attack. However, the amendments will ensure that the Commonwealth can more easily respond to requests from states and territories for ADF assistance. The amendments remove the existing legislative threshold requirement that the states and territories are not, or are unlikely to be, able to protect themselves against incidents of significant violence. Instead, in deciding whether to call out the ADF, the Commonwealth will need to consider the nature of the incident and whether the ADF would enhance the state's or territory's response.
The amendments will also ensure that the ADF has the powers it needs to respond quickly and effectively to contemporary terrorist attacks in support of states and territories. In particular, they will allow the government to pre-authorise the ADF to respond to specified threats on land, at sea and in the air; they will simplify, expand and clarify the ADF's power to search, seize and control movement during a violent or terrorist incident; and they will enhance the ability of the ADF to respond to incidents occurring in more than one jurisdiction. While the ADF's primary counterterrorism role is offshore, the ADF has personnel, resources and specialist skills that can assist our emergency services to respond in the event of a terrorist attack. This support includes specialist capabilities such as tactical assault forces and chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear response and recovery.
The amendments will ensure that the ADF is able to utilise these skills and capabilities to contribute effectively to domestic counterterrorism efforts. The reforms are part of a suite of measures being rolled out to enhance Defence's support to national counterterrorism arrangements. Since the government's announcements of the outcomes of the Defence counterterrorism review last year, Defence has made substantial progress to further enhance the practical support it provides to state and territory police, including through an enhanced counterterrorism liaison network, an increased and broadened program of support for specialist training activities, streamlined police access to Defence facilities, such as rifle ranges, and expansion of the capacity and capability of highly trained force elements on call to assist police to respond to domestic security threats. These reforms will ensure the Commonwealth can be more flexible and agile in the way it supports states and territories.
The government has tabled an addendum to the explanatory memorandum which comprises the government's response to the report of the Senate Legal and Constitutional Affairs Legislation Committee. It provides further information regarding what may constitute specified circumstances in the context of a contingent call-out order. The addendum also responds to the report of the Senate Standing Committee for the Scrutiny of Bills. It provides further information about the meaning of domestic violence and Commonwealth interests, the new threshold, time limits on call-out orders, the use of force in relation to declared infrastructure, aircraft and vessels, and the good-faith provision in subsection 51S(1). I would like to thank these committees for their detailed consideration of the bill.
In conclusion, the bill reflects the government's ongoing commitment to ensuring Australia's counterterrorism legislative framework remains robust and that ADF is well equipped to support our law enforcement agencies in responding to the evolving threat of terrorism. I'd like to thank my parliamentary colleagues for recognising the need for these important measures. And, again, I would like to thank our serving ADF members for their service. I commend the bill to the House.
The question is that this bill be now read a second time.
A division having been called and the bells having been rung—
As there are fewer than five members on the side for the noes for this division, I declare the question resolved in the affirmative in accordance with standing order 127. The names of those members who are in the minority will be recorded in the Votes and Proceedings.
Question agreed to, Mr Bandt and Mr Wilkie voting no.
Bill read a second time.