House debates

Thursday, 3 December 2020


Australian Security Intelligence Organisation Amendment Bill 2020; Report from Committee

4:16 pm

Photo of Andrew HastieAndrew Hastie (Canning, Liberal Party) Share this | | Hansard source

On behalf of the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security, I present the advisory report, incorporating a dissenting report, on the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation Amendment Bill 2020.

Report made a parliamentary paper in accordance with standing order 39(e).

by leave—I'm pleased to present the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security's advisory report on the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation Amendment Bill 2020, which includes additional comments.

ASIO does some of the most important work in the national security space, keeping Australians safe from politically motivated violence and espionage. They are our shield against the unseen arrows of our adversaries. It's important that the government and this parliament make sure that the tools ASIO has to do its important role are reviewed and updated. A parliament anchored in the principles of limited government will restrain the powers of an agency such as ASIO where it has been shown this is necessary. The Morrison government takes seriously the balancing of individual rights and liberties with the intrusive powers needed to keep Australians and our democracy free of interference, and the Morrison government has brought forward these powers with these principles in mind. It upholds Westminster accountability, especially with this bill.

This bill amends the compulsory questioning framework in the ASIO Act by enabling ASIO's continued use of questioning warrants but removing its ability to use questioning and detention warrants; replacing the existing detention framework with a more limited apprehension framework; enabling the use of questioning warrants in relation to espionage, politically motivated violence—including terrorism—and acts of foreign interference; providing the power for a police officer to conduct a search of a person who is apprehended in connection with a questioning warrant; and permitting ASIO to seek a questioning warrant in relation to minors aged 14 to 18 but only where the minor is themselves the target of an ASIO investigation in relation to politically motivated violence.

I do have a prepared speech here; however, I note the time and I just want to cover off very quickly the additional recommendations for inclusions in the bill. We recommend that the sunsetting time be reduced to 10 to 15 years; that the committee may review the operation, effectiveness and implications of the questioning powers ahead of the sunset date; and that a legal practitioner be able to be appointed as a prescribed authority, and they must have engaged in legal practice for least 10 years and be a Queen's Counsel or a Senior Counsel.

I direct the public to contents of the report itself. I will give my time to opposition members who would like to speak.

4:18 pm

Photo of Mark DreyfusMark Dreyfus (Isaacs, Australian Labor Party, Shadow Attorney General) Share this | | Hansard source

by leave—I wish to make some brief remarks on the report. I simply wish to say that the chair has tabled the report of the intelligence committee on the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation Amendment Bill, and I need to clarify that there is not a dissenting report from Labor members; there is additional comment from Labor members—because Labor members of the intelligence committee support the passage of this bill, and Labor will be supporting the passage of this bill.

There are seven recommendations in the report which Labor very much hopes the government will accept, because all of them will improve the safeguards that are necessary when this parliament legislates for powers that are as extensive as the power that is conferred on the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation by this bill. We would hope to see further changes made, and that's what the additional comment by Labor members deals with. I say again: the Labor members' recommendation to this parliament is that the bill should be supported by the parliament.