Senate debates

Thursday, 13 May 2010

Australian Information Commissioner Bill 2010; Freedom of Information Amendment (Reform) Bill 2010

In Committee

1:47 pm

Photo of Scott LudlamScott Ludlam (WA, Australian Greens) Share this | Hansard source

by leave—I move Australian Greens amendments (1) to (5) to the Freedom of Information Amendment (Reform) Bill 2009 on sheet 6106:

(1)    Schedule 6, item 4, page 134 (lines 27 to 30), item to be opposed.

(2)    Schedule 6, page 137 (after line 30), after item 19, insert:

19A  Subsections 7(1) and (1A)

Repeal the subsections.

(3)    Schedule 6, items 20 and 21, page 137 (line 31) to page 139 (line 9), items to be opposed.

(4)    Schedule 6, page 147 (after line 29), after item 37, insert:

37A  Division 1 of Part I of Schedule 2 (the items relating to the Australian Security Intelligence Service, the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation, the Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security and the Office of National Assessments)

Repeal the subsections.

37B  Division 2 of Part I of Schedule 2

Repeal the subsections.

Amendment (5) is an alternative to amendments (1) to (4)

(5)    Schedule 4, item 57, page 118 (after line 32), after subsection 93B(2), insert:

     (2A)    The terms of reference of the review must provide that the persons conducting the review:

             (a)    must consider and report on whether the exemptions from the operation of this Act in respect of the intelligence agencies specified in Divisions 1 and 2 of Part I of Schedule 2 are appropriate; and

             (b)    may make recommendations about continuing or repealing those exemptions.

      (2B)    The review must include an opportunity for members of the public to make written submissions on the operation of this Act in respect of the intelligence agencies specified in Divisions 1 and 2 of Part I of Schedule 2.

Amendments (1) to (4) give effect to the issues that I raised before. Before we put them to a vote, I am interested to hear from the minister. I am presuming we do not have opposition consent for the amendments, as we did not the last time I raised them. What is it exactly about Australian security agencies that should render them entirely immune to freedom of information that does not apply, for example, to the CIA, to United States intelligence agencies and to intelligence agencies like MI5 or MI6 in Britain, which are subject to freedom of information laws? What is it exactly about Australian secrecy in the case of these agencies that is so special?

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