Senate debates

Wednesday, 27 June 2018


National Security Legislation Amendment (Espionage and Foreign Interference) Bill 2017, Foreign Influence Transparency Scheme Bill 2017; First Reading

10:13 am

Photo of Rachel SiewertRachel Siewert (WA, Australian Greens) Share this | Hansard source

Here we have the blame game happening around bad process. Yes, last week was bad process—have no doubt. The Greens believe that it was very bad process and our vote showed what we thought about that. However, one bad process does not justify another bad process. The fact is the crossbench was not involved in the committee that scrutinised these two bills. We've already said we don't think they should be debated together because we have serious concerns about both bills that need to be aired. They are separate bills, but bad process does not justify bad process.

The fact is there are 280 amendments that were made in a very short time frame in the House of Reps yesterday, which we have not had time to get across. We don't know if those amendments actually reflect the findings of the committee when they made their recommendations on these bills. And what do we get to justify the cut-off order which prevents us from adequately scrutinising those 280 amendments? We get a paragraph and a sentence about urgency that just says, 'These are urgent because they are urgent,' and throws in the word 'security'. We're all supposed to throw up our hands every single time the government and the ALP mention security and go, 'Ooh! We'd better do what they want.' Well, we don't think that's right to throw around the word 'security' when the security risk has not been increased from 'probable' for five years. So what does that mean about urgency? They throw around the word 'security', but when you actually look at it there hasn't been an increase in the threat level. But we are supposed to run around and go, 'Oh, anything you want.'

The crossbench don't think this is an appropriate process. We think it should be considered properly. We think we should be given the opportunity to properly scrutinise 280 amendments, and the community should be given a chance to properly scrutinise those amendments to see what they think. We have very serious concerns, as Senator McKim has already articulated, around what this package of bills means for our democracy.

We have not had that opportunity yet. We don't know what those amendments mean. We have concerns about those bills, which we have articulated clearly before, and yet we were still denied the opportunity to participate in the community process because the two old parties want to keep ganging together, throwing around the terms 'urgency' and 'security', and locking out the community. That's what this does. It locks out the community and its ability to properly scrutinise these bills, and it prevents this place from properly scrutinising these bills and looking at the impact of these bills and their 280 amendments—amendments that were blinked through in the House of Representatives without proper scrutiny, and now we don't have the ability to scrutinise them.

That's why we tried to refer these bills to the Senate Legal and Constitutional Affairs Legislation Committee—so that we could review what the amended bills mean and enable the community to have their say on them too. We don't support this being rushed through on the flimsy paragraph that says, 'They're urgent because we believe they're urgent, and just trust us.' Well, we don't trust you. We don't trust you on urgency and we don't trust you whenever you use the word 'scrutiny' and expect us to run round and go, 'Oh, okay, that's fine; we'll blink it through.' Well, we won't.


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