Senate debates

Tuesday, 10 December 2013


Select Committee on Electronic Surveillance; Appointment

3:50 pm

Photo of Scott LudlamScott Ludlam (WA, Australian Greens) Share this | | Hansard source

I move:

(1) That a select committee, to be known as the Select Committee on Electronic Surveillance be established to inquire into and report on the adequacy of the institutional, technical and legal framework governing the Australian Intelligence Community and related entities on 10 June 2014, with particular reference to:

(a) the right to privacy and data security;

(b) institutional accountability to the Parliament;

(c) international legal obligations and agreements; and

(d) any related matter.

(2) That the committee consist of 7 senators, 3 nominated by the Leader of the Government in the Senate, 3 nominated by the Leader of the Opposition in the Senate, and 1 nominated by minority groups and independent senators.

(3) That:

(a) participating members may be appointed to the committee on the nomination of the Leader of the Government in the Senate, the Leader of the Opposition in the Senate or any minority party or independent senator;

(b) participating members may participate in hearings of evidence and deliberations of the committee, and have all the rights of members of the committee, but may not vote on any questions before the committee; and

(c) a participating member shall be taken to be a member of the committee for the purpose of forming a quorum of the committee if a majority of members of the committee is not present.

(4) That the committee may proceed to the dispatch of business notwithstanding that not all members have been duly nominated and appointed and notwithstanding any vacancy.

(5) That the committee elect as chair a member nominated by the Leader of the Opposition and, as deputy chair, a member nominated by the Leader of the Government.

(6) That the deputy chair shall act as chair when the chair is absent from a meeting of the committee or the position of chair is temporarily vacant.

(7) That the chair, or the deputy chair when acting as chair, may appoint another member of the committee to act as chair during the temporary absence of both the chair and deputy chair at a meeting of the committee.

(8) That, in the event of an equally divided vote, the chair, or the deputy chair when acting as chair, have a casting vote.

(9) That the committee have power to appoint subcommittees consisting of 3 or more of its members, and to refer to any such subcommittee any of the matters which the committee is empowered to examine.

(10) That the committee and any subcommittee have power to send for and examine persons and documents, to move from place to place, to sit in public or in private, notwithstanding any prorogation of the Parliament or dissolution of the House of Representatives, and have leave to report from time to time its proceedings, the evidence taken and such interim recommendations as it may deem fit.

(11) That the committee be provided with all necessary staff, facilities and resources and be empowered to appoint persons with specialist knowledge for the purposes of the committee with the approval of the President.

(12) That the committee be empowered to print from day to day such documents and evidence as may be ordered by it, and a daily Hansard be published of such proceedings as take place in public.

I seek leave to make a brief statement.

Photo of Stephen ParryStephen Parry (Tasmania, Liberal Party) Share this | | Hansard source

Leave is granted for one minute, Senator Ludlam.

Photo of Scott LudlamScott Ludlam (WA, Australian Greens) Share this | | Hansard source

I will make this statement because I understand that there is no support either from the government, the Liberal-National Party, or from the Labor Party for a fairly simple committee reference into electronic surveillance overreach. The story started obviously with the United States government where inquiries are well and truly underway. Congressional hearings have been held, bills have been drafted, votes have been taken and inquiries are underway. It is the same in the UK. It is the same in France, Germany and countries in South America including Brazil—everywhere in fact except here in Australia where this bipartisan denial and conspiracy of silence to avoid the issues are yet again on display here today. This is the second time I have put a reference and, in defiance I would say to the majority will of the people of this country who want to know what is being done in our name, it is about to be voted down again. It will not be the last time I bring a motion such as this forward. I commend it to the chamber.