Thursday, 12 August 2021
Counter-Terrorism Legislation Amendment (Sunsetting Review and Other Measures) Bill 2021; Second Reading
Labor supports the Counter-Terrorism Legislation Amendment (Sunsetting Review and Other Measures) Bill 2021. We have in this legislation a range of counterterrorism and other police powers in the Crimes Act 1914 and the Criminal Code Act 1995, which are due to expire on 7 September 2021. The powers are declared areas provisions, the control order regime, the preventative detention regime and a range of stop-and-search seizure powers. This bill extends the sunset dates on each of these powers. It allows the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security to conduct a review of the operation, effectiveness and proportionality of declared areas provisions prior to the new sunset clause.
Finally, the bill would amend the Independent National Security Legislation Monitor Act to give the Independent National Security Legislation Monitor more time to finalise their review of the continuing detention order regime, control order prevention, preventative detention and stop-and-search seizure powers, which are all due to expire on 7 September this year and are currently under review by the Intelligence and Security Committee. We support the proposed extension of the sunset dates to 7 December of next year. This extension ensures that the intelligence and security committee has sufficient time to complete its review prior to sunsetting and the government will have sufficient time to work through and respond to any recommendations made by the committee.
The declared areas provisions are in a different category. The declared areas provisions of the Criminal Code allow the Minister for Foreign Affairs to declare an area in a foreign country if he or she is satisfied that a listed terrorist organisation is engaging in hostile activity in that area of the foreign country and make it an offence for a person to enter or remain in a declared area subject to a number of limited exceptions set out in 119.2 of the Criminal Code, such as providing aid of a humanitarian nature, performing an official duty for the Commonwealth or visiting a family member. The committee recommended that the sunset date of the powers be extended to 7 September 2024 and that the Intelligence and Security Committee be empowered to conduct a review of those powers at any time prior to that date. The bill implements both of those recommendations.
The Intelligence and Security Committee also recommended that the declared areas provisions be amended to allow Australian citizens to request an exemption from the Minister for Foreign Affairs to travel to a declared area for a reason not listed in section 119.2 of the Criminal Code. Labor notes that, following extensive consultation with government agencies, including ASIO and the AFP, the former Independent National Security Legislation Monitor, Dr James Renwick, made a similar recommendation in 2017. The government has argued that this recommendation could not be effectively implemented and monitored and the time and resources required to obtain information to assess the application would be significant and would divert security and intelligence resources from other national security priorities.
Labor, on this matter, are not persuaded. We think that the government should implement the committee's bipartisan and unanimous recommendations. Labor recognise the implementation is not without its challenges. Because of that complexity, and the national security context, we think it is an amendment that should be drafted following close consultation with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and Australia's national security agencies. That is why Labor are moving a second reading amendment calling on the government to implement the recommendation. Subject to that qualification, I commend the bill to the Senate. We haven't circulated it. I note that Labor moved that second reading amendment in the House of Representatives and we'll reflect on that in the course of this debate.