Senate debates

Thursday, 2 September 2021


Independent National Security Legislation Monitor Amendment Bill 2021; Second Reading

1:24 pm

Photo of Rex PatrickRex Patrick (SA, Independent) Share this | Hansard source

[by video link] I am not going to say very much on this other than that I absolutely support the role of the independent monitor. It's a really crucial role. It is a role that has been filled by number of eminent QCs and SCs. We have had Bret Walker, the Hon. Roger Gyles, James Renwick, who has recently moved on from the position, and of course Mr Grant Donaldson SC, who is the incumbent at the present moment.

The Independent National Security Legislation Monitor Amendment Bill 2021 follows recommendations from Mr Renwick in relation to some constraints around reporting. What surprises me, however, is that the government appears as if it is not going to support my amendment. I hope that is not the case. The amendment that I will seek to move during the committee stage—and I won't talk then; I will talk now—basically places a requirement on the government to respond to any report that's got a recommendation. Whether it is an annual report, special report or statutory report, if it has a recommendation then it requires the Attorney-General to respond to that within 12 months and to lay on the table that response. It provides provision for having an unclassified version, if that were to be considered necessary. It seems a pretty obvious thing that ought to happen—a report is written, recommendations are made and then they're considered and not left open for a number of years.

What this flows from is exactly that problem—that many of the reports and recommendations that have been made by the independent monitor have largely been ignored or not addressed by governments. If the independent monitor makes a recommendation and the government doesn't like it, that's fine. It can respond accordingly, saying what's wrong with it and everyone can have a look at that and criticise it or congratulate the government for coming to whatever conclusion it might have. But simply not responding to it is not sufficient. It is just a basic principle. I hope when we get to the committee of the whole that I will see people supporting that particular amendment.


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