Thursday, 25 September 2014
National Security Legislation Amendment Bill (No. 1) 2014; In Committee
I will just make a few comments on behalf of the Australian Greens. I understand why these amendments have been brought forward. The Australian Greens will not be supporting them—not quite in the same way as the opposition, which I think has just decided not to support any amendments that did not make it out of the parliamentary joint committee, but more on the merits. This is an issue on which the intelligence agencies have had—and Senator Brandis reminded us of this—a very long lead time; this is a very long lead-time process that we are involved in here. This has been underway for nearly two years and takes us back to the process's initiation by Minister Roxon—I think she was the Attorney at the time that this process was set in motion. And I am not aware of, at any time, ASIO bringing this matter forward as an issue of concern. Senator Brandis has been very reluctant to respond to the questions earlier in the debate but I do not know whether, at this stage, on this different matter, he is aware of whether the issue was raised before the PJCIS when he was on that committee, whether the government simply missed a burning issue, or whether in fact this has not been something that was exercising the minds of the agencies, because it appears that they got pretty much everything else that they were after in the process of drafting these bills. So I would just seek that advice from the Attorney-General, and, secondly, by way of a supplementary question, advice on whether these provisions have been used in anger—whether there have actually been recent prosecutions. I understand why the identities of these people need to be kept secret, and that is a longstanding tradition. But I guess I am just seeking some indication of why the government has suddenly discovered the urgency of this matter.