Thursday, 3 September 2020
Australian Citizenship Amendment (Citizenship Cessation) Bill 2020; In Committee
I rise in response to the amendment that Senator Patrick has moved on sheet 1039. The amendment would have the effect of repealing the limitations on operational oversight of intelligence agencies to the PJCIS. I do advise the chamber that the government, as I think you know, Senator Patrick, will not be supporting the amendment put forward.
The reason for that is as follows. Senator Patrick seeks to amend this particular bill to provide the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security with operational oversight of intelligence agencies. Senator Patrick, though, would be aware that the government's longstanding position is that operational oversight of Australia's intelligence, security and law enforcement agencies is appropriately conducted by independent statutory bodies. Again, as Senator Patrick would be aware—and I have listened to Senator Patrick carefully—Commonwealth legislation does provide oversight bodies robust powers to conduct this oversight. In fact, as senators in the chamber would be aware, the Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security has the powers of a standing royal commission, and they are very, very serious powers, as you would know, Madam Chair Askew.
The Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security has extensive powers to oversee and inquire into the legality and propriety of national intelligence community operations. In fact, Senator Patrick, when you were commenting on what you thought the government would say in response to your amendment, you acknowledged that the Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security regularly appears before the PJCIS—otherwise known as the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security—on non-operational matters and that the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security may also request the Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security to brief the committee. So that option is certainly open to the committee should they wish to exercise it. The government's view is that this amendment would duplicate existing oversight provided and that existing arrangements appropriately—
The TEMPORARY CHAIR: Minister, it being 4.30, and pursuant to the order, the committee will now report its progress.