Thursday, 25 September 2014
National Security Legislation Amendment Bill (No. 1) 2014; In Committee
I have two things on which to make quick comments in relation to these particular amendments. I will, with some reservations, support these amendments for these reasons. I think that disclosing the identity of an ASIO or ASIS officer can, in some cases, sign their death warrant if they are involved in an undercover operation. Obviously the court would need to consider those matters in the case of an offence, but I think that the need to protect the identity of those officers is a significant consideration. I do note very closely Senator Collins's concerns about the process in respect of this, but I want to be consistent with my remarks earlier in the course of this debate as to adequately protecting, and having adequate deterrents against disclosing, the identity of agents. However, I would like to ask the Attorney, as briefly as possible: is this a matter that has been raised in terms of the adequacy of deterrents for disclosing the identity of agents? Is this a matter that has been on his radar through intelligence agencies? Can he indicate in broad terms: is this a concern that he has had—that the penalty has not been adequate in the past?