Senate debates

Wednesday, 26 November 2014


Counter-Terrorism Legislation Amendment Bill (No. 1) 2014; In Committee

12:20 pm

Photo of George BrandisGeorge Brandis (Queensland, Liberal Party, Attorney-General) Share this | Hansard source

It cannot be. I will try this once more, Senator, and I hope I am not going to be too labyrinthine for you. There is a prohibition against an act of violence—against an ASIS officer being involved in either planning or undertaking an act of violence. So that if an ASIS officer were to be involved in the planning of or to undertake an act of violence then the statutory protection from liability, which he or she might otherwise seek to avail themselves of under section 14 of the Intelligence Services Act, does not apply because no ASIS officer can engage in an act of violence in performance of their functions.

'Violence' is not defined but violence plainly includes the common speech meaning of 'torture', which at its narrowest definition involves the infliction of physical suffering. But 'torture' has a broader definition than that in our law by virtue of section 274 of the Criminal Code both because of the way in which it is described in that section but also because, as I have just pointed out, by section 274.1, the UN convention definition of 'torture' is imported into Australian law and to the interpretation of any relevant provision of Australian law, including the specific provision of the Criminal Code. So if 'violence' equates to 'torture', as it does, and 'torture' has the meaning of the UN convention, which it does, then you can follow—and I do not mean to be labyrinthine, Senator, you can follow yourself—that the UN convention definition constitutes part of the prohibition in section 6(4) of the Intelligence Services Act.


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