Thursday, 25 September 2014
National Security Legislation Amendment Bill (No. 1) 2014; In Committee
The Greens will be supporting the government amendments for most of the reasons Senator Brandis put forward. The amendments not entirely but largely reflect the recommendations that the PJCIS made when the bill they had effectively constructed was referred back to them a few weeks ago. The amendments are marginal at best, which is why the Greens have sought to more our own committee stage amendments. Nonetheless, Senator Brandis has accurately outlined the fact that these amendments were largely in the spirit of the recommendations that the PJCIS put forward. They go no way towards persuading me that this is a bill which should see the light of day. Nonetheless, they do offer marginal improvements to the way that the bill is operated in some of the reporting obligations contained in there. So we will be supporting them.
I also understand that Senator Collins will not proceed with an amendment to similar effect on the issue that Senator Leyonhjelm raised around torture. It goes to the categories of conduct for which ASIO officers can seek immunity and protection. I thank the government for acknowledging at least that that was an issue they sought to put beyond doubt. It is not something that I thought was necessarily going to be a huge problem. It is not something that ASIO officers, certainly not in recent history or in recent memory, have ever been accused of perpetrating. Nonetheless, by Senator Leyonhjelm bringing it forward to the parliament and to the media's attention, and by the government acting quite swiftly to set the question to rest, at least it is one issue which can be taken off the table as a matter of concern for the bill. Apart from that, I think the government sought leave to move all its amendments en bloc. The Australian Greens will be supporting that.