Thursday, 28 June 2018
National Security Legislation Amendment (Espionage and Foreign Interference) Bill 2018; In Committee
I again thank Senator Patrick for his ongoing interest in this very important issue around the proper oversight of intelligence agencies. I thank him also for the thoughtful and constructive approach he has taken to drafting amendments which seek to meet—albeit in a slightly different way than Labor has approached this in the past—our objective, which is to ensure that proper oversight of the activities of the Australian intelligence community is able to be undertaken by parliamentarians.
As Senator Wong indicated earlier in the debate, and as I think is well-known in the chamber, Labor does have a private senators' bill which also goes to these questions. We have previously indicated, and I reiterate it here, that we would welcome constructive engagement with all senators in this place, and certainly with Senator Patrick. But I also invite the government to consider its willingness to look seriously at the mechanisms for oversight of the intelligence community.
In terms of this evening's debate, with regard to the amendments proposed on sheet 8458, these amendments are, in substance, unrelated to the subject matter and objects of the National Security Legislation Amendment (Espionage and Foreign Interference) Bill 2017. On this basis, Labor does not support the amendments. As I have indicated, that is not to say that we do not consider this to be a matter worthy of very significant attention in this chamber, and I look forward to cooperating with other senators in coming months.