Thursday, 28 June 2018
National Security Legislation Amendment (Espionage and Foreign Interference) Bill 2018, Foreign Influence Transparency Scheme Bill 2018; Second Reading
I have spoken already in this debate, so I don't seek to add to the substantive debate. I do, however, wish to briefly respond to the second reading amendments which were moved after I spoke. There were second reading amendments moved by Senator McKim, on sheets 8475 and 8476. There is also an amendment to be moved by Senator Patrick. Senator McKim's amendments seek to refer these bills to a further committee inquiry, and Senator Patrick is seeking to refer his amendments on sheet 8446 to an inquiry by the PJCIS.
First, the effect of all of these amendments would be to interrupt further consideration of the bills. Under the committee's report in August, for the reasons that I outlined yesterday, the opposition will not be supporting further inquiry or delay on these bills, noting the extensive inquiry that has been undertaken by the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security.
The amendments proposed by Senator Patrick on sheet 8472, which are the subject of referrals, seek to inform the intelligence committee's oversight powers in the Intelligence Services Act. I do wish to, again, mark that Labor has long sought to improve the oversight powers of the parliament with respect to intelligence and security legislation, and the operations of intelligence and security agencies. In addition, the L'Estrange and Merchant review of the Australian intelligence community recommended changes to the oversight powers of the PJCIS. The opposition welcomed these recommendations, and we hope the government will similarly consider them with a favourable eye.
The oversight imperative was the purpose of the Faulkner reforms, which were proposed in this place by former senator John Faulkner—also a member, at that time, of the intelligence committee prior to his retirement. I would invite Senator Patrick to engage with the opposition and, in particular, Senator McAllister, who now has carriage of the legislation on these matters. I also invite the government to work with us to progress sensible and constructive reforms in line with the L'Estrange and Merchant review of the Australian intelligence community.