Tuesday, 15 October 2019
Crimes Legislation Amendment (Police Powers at Airports) Bill 2019; Consideration of Senate Message
I would like to indicate to the House that the government proposes that amendment (1) be disagreed to, and that amendment (2) be agreed to. I suggest, therefore, that it may suit the convenience of the House first to consider amendment (1) and when that amendment has been disposed of to consider amendment (2).
This amendment made in the Senate would place a sunset clause in this legislation. I rise in support of this amendment. It was moved in the Senate by Senator Patrick. It needs to be said that sunset clauses are not unusual, especially when they're inserted in respect of legislation that would introduce new coercive powers, and are often complemented by a statutory review provision, as is the case here. What has occurred in the Senate is that—as we have seen in, I would have to say, countless national security laws, particularly ones that insert new powers—we've got a pair of provisions. One is inserting a sunset for four years and the second is a review to enable parliament to consider whether or not the coercive power should be continued.
Senator Patrick's proposal is that the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security be required to preview the provisions that are introduced by the Crimes Legislation Amendment (Police Powers at Airports) Bill 2019 in three years time. The purpose of the sunset provision is to, in effect, require the parliament to take the outcome of the review seriously. That's because after four years, the parliament will be presented with a choice in the light of the outcome of the statutory review: does it reindorse the measures introduced by the bill, does it amend them or does it allow them to sunset and thereby cease to have effect? We shouldn't be afraid of sunset clauses, they're not unusual and they exist in many pieces of legislation—particularly in national security legislation. I commend Senator Patrick for moving this amendment. Labor supports it.
I rise in support of this amendment, which the government is also agreeing to. This was an amendment that was moved in the Senate by Senator Patrick. It's a sensible amendment. It does no more than require the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security to take another look at the measures in this bill in three years time. What it will do is enable the committee to make an informed judgement about whether the measures are fit for purpose and appropriate with the benefit of experience.
It's worth remembering that, on the creation of the Home Affairs portfolio in July 2017, then Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said: 'When it comes to our nation's security, we must stay ahead of the threats against us. There's no room for complacency; there's no room for set and forget.' The current Prime Minister, Scott Morrison, has used the same phrase when describing everything from Australia's foreign policy, where he said, 'The rules and institutions that support global cooperation must reflect the modern world. It can't be set and forget,' to his emergency response to the drought, 'Our drought response is not set and forget.' So let's not set and forget.
Just to give an illustration, the intelligence committee is presently conducting a review of the mandatory data retention scheme legislated in 2015. It's presently conducting a review of the assistance and access bill, which is an unusual review because it was set in train and legislated for immediately on the passage of the legislation. The intelligence committee is conducting a review of citizenship laws passed in 2015, and recently the intelligence committee completed a review of the questioning-and-detention warrant powers first legislated by the Howard government. They were sunset provisions and review provisions, but it ultimately allowed two reviews to be conducted by the Independent National Security Legislation Monitor, recommending that those powers be repealed. The intelligence committee got to the same position. The government is now considering that review report by the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security.
It's a simple proposition: when new coercive powers are being introduced, when there's an increase in the powers that are given to our intelligence agencies or our police to deal with national security questions or to deal with terrorism, then it's appropriate that we not 'set and forget'—to use the phrase used by former Prime Minister Turnbull, and the same phrase used by Prime Minister Morrison—but, rather, that we do legislate for reviews so that it can be assessed in three years time as to whether or not it is appropriate that the additional coercive powers that have been conferred on our police and our intelligence agencies should in fact be continued. It is of course the case that the opposition supported this bill, which grants new powers to the Australian Federal Police. We accepted the position that the Australian Federal Police put to the intelligence committee—that they shouldn't have to rely on inconsistent state and territory laws to exercise the sorts of powers that are contained in this bill. It made sense, and will make sense now that we have the legislation almost passed. It will make sense to have a uniform law instead.
It's of course the case that airports can be the focal points for serious and organised crime groups, including those involved in the illicit drug trade. This bill will enable constables and AFP protective service officers—PSOs—at major airports to do a whole range of things. This is what needs to be reviewed in three years time: directing a person to produce evidence of their identity; directing a person to leave the airport; directing a person not to take a specified flight; and directing a person to stop, and do anything necessary to facilitate the identity check or a move-on direction. There are limitations and there are safeguards in these powers, but, nevertheless, they do reflect an extension of power to the Australian Federal Police. That's why it's right that Senator Patrick, of Centre Alliance, has moved this amendment to the legislation, which will create a statutory review in three years time. We think that's a good idea. That is why we are supporting the amendment that has been returned to the House from the Senate. I'm very hopeful that this legislation will now be enabled to be completed, returned to the Senate in its amended form and be completed in the Senate in short order.
Question agreed to.