Thursday, 7 December 2017
On behalf of Senator Wong, I move:
That the Senate notes—
(a) the need for the executive to respect and protect the non-political role of the security services;
(b) the need to keep confidential information secure;
(c) the importance of the principle that intelligence material should not be used for partisan purposes;
(d) the offences for communicating intelligence information under the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation Act 1979, including penalties; and
(e) the recommendations of the Hope Royal Commissions on Intelligence and Security, in particular, relating to the relationship between the security services and executive government and the responsibility of the Government to protect and adhere to the above principles.
by leave—I move an amendment to the motion:
At the end of paragraph (e), add—
", and further affirms that enhanced scrutiny of the security services as proposed by the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security Amendment Bill 2015, and extending to appropriate oversight of agency operations, would increase confidence that the security services strictly adhere to their non-political role and that intelligence material will not be used for partisan purposes."
The government supports the motion in its original form. However, we do not support this amendment. Australian intelligence agencies already have comprehensive independent oversight of their operations through the Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security and of their legislation through the Independent National Security Legislation Monitor. These oversight mechanisms are being enhanced through the coalition government's response to the independent intelligence review and home affairs implementation. It is the government's view that adding a duplicating layer of operational oversight by a parliamentary committee would only increase the potential for the politicisation of our intelligence agencies, not diminish it.
Madam Deputy President, may I request that when you put this motion you put them independently so that the original motion—(a), (b), (c), (d) and (e)—be put as one question and then the amendment by Senator Patrick be put as a separate question?
Perhaps I expressed myself poorly. If the amendment happens to be carried, I wonder whether we can divide the final motion, because I find myself in the same position as the government: I'd like to support the original motion, if the amendment is not successful.
The question is that the amendment to general business notice of motion No. 661, as moved by Senator Patrick, be agreed to.
Senator Gallagher did not vote, to compensate for the vacancy caused by the resignation of Senator Parry.
Senator Dastyari did not vote, to compensate for the vacancy caused by the resignation of Senator Nash
Senator O'Sullivan did not vote, to compensate for the vacancy caused by the resignation of Senator Kakoschke-Moore.
There was a request earlier to split 661, so the question now is that paragraphs (a) to (d) of general business notice of motion No. 661 be agreed to.
Question agreed to.
The question is that paragraph (e) of general business notice of motion No. 661 be agreed to.
Question agreed to.