Thursday, 26 August 2021
[by video link] I rise to talk about parliamentary process—bad parliamentary process. The Foreign Intelligence Legislative Amendment Bill 2021 was introduced to the House of Representatives only yesterday, 25 August. Five days earlier, on 20 August, the draft bill had been referred by the Minister for Home Affairs, Karen Andrews MP, to the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security. The minister made a public statement. The PJCIS issued no media release. That committee, of coalition and Labor MPs, conducted a secret pro-forma inquiry that lasted just five days. No submissions were sought, and just one meeting was held—a secret briefing with the intelligence agencies. Yesterday, the PJCIS tabled its rubber stamped report and the coalition and Labor opposition voted the bill through the House of Representatives with the briefest of debates. The explanatory memorandum was only tabled after the debate.
It's worth noting the subsequent comments of the independent member for Indi, Dr Haines, who yesterday evening said:
This bill was introduced this morning. It has just gone through the House this evening. Members of the crossbench were not given any briefing on this bill. We did not get an explanatory memorandum. I note that the minister has just tabled one. I just want to put on Hansard that we've had no opportunity to consider this. Clearly, the opposition has. This is an urgent bill, according to the speeches that I've just heard, late into the evening, just now, and I want to make it very clear that, as a member of this parliament, I've had no opportunity to consider it at all.
The bill is now before the Senate. It was rushed in and it will be rushed out. National security is no reason for the Senate to abandon its responsibilities.