Senate debates

Thursday, 10 December 2020


Australian Security Intelligence Organisation Amendment Bill 2020; Second Reading

12:15 pm

Photo of Lidia ThorpeLidia Thorpe (Victoria, Australian Greens) Share this | Hansard source

If you are scared of journalists, then what are you hiding? If you are so scared of civil society—the very people that elected you to this place—and anyone who is holding you to account, then what are you doing behind closed doors? We teach our children to be accountable, to conduct themselves with dignity and to say something if they see something dodgy going on. The Minister for Home Affairs never got that lesson. He doesn't care about you, he doesn't care about our democracy, and he most definitely does not care for being exposed—I don't want to get caught out on a point of order, so I won't say that line.

The Minister for Home Affairs wants to send Big Brother to spy on our children. These laws will lower the age of questioning by ASIO from 16 to 14. Think about that. ASIO can spy on children, breaching Australia's international obligations under the Convention on the Rights of the Child. This is sick. Why am I surprised? This is from a government that is happy to lock brown and black people up in offshore detention, a government headed by a Prime Minister who, when the country was going through one of the worst crises in its history, went to Hawaii. He went to Hawaii. Why didn't he holiday here, on our own shores? That's right—because our country was on fire. It was literally on fire. I know the other side hate hearing this because they hate being exposed for the outliers that they are. This government will dodge accountability. It's revolting.

These laws will give ASIO powers that are so far-reaching that they could be used to clamp down on civil society organisations and political advocacy groups, including environment, human rights and refugee groups. These changes would make Australia a world leader in state sanctioned tracking of citizens and coercive questioning powers, because the Minister for Home Affairs is scared—scared of children, scared of the truth, scared of brown and black people. He's running scared. But that's okay—the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security, the PJCIS, is on his side. It's shameful. The PJCIS has just rubberstamped these laws. It is one of the parliament's most secret and powerful committees, and it's determining the fate of Minister Dutton's spy laws. This government-controlled committee operates like a fortress. Independent and crossbench MPs are shut out of any form of participation on scrutiny, because the PJCIS doesn't like to be scrutinised. Let's be honest, that's what these laws are about. They're about limiting the public's right to know. They're about intimidating anyone who sees government wrongdoing.

There has been an ongoing erosion of rights in Australia for the past 20 years. Unfortunately, the two major parties are in complete lock step with each other and they are leading us down the road to a surveillance state. I say to those opposite: you know that the George Orwell novel 1984 was a novel, right? It wasn't a manual. The Minister for Home Affairs and the secretary of his department, 'Big Brother' and 'Little Brother', are so threatened by truth. These laws are always pitched to us on the basis of the most serious crimes available, but we know—I know as a black woman—that these laws are always used to intimidate black people, people of colour, activists, grassroots organisations and journalists. If this government are so scared of the truth, then what are they hiding?

We are proud to be the only opposition in this place. We will never support this intrusion on the human rights of people. I say to those watching: the Greens are the real opposition in this place. We're the ones with the guts to call out this shameful overreach. I also want to remind you that not only is ASIO watching; so is the Minister for Home Affairs. Shame.


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