Thursday, 1 August 2019
Australian Security Intelligence Organisation Amendment (Sunsetting of Special Powers Relating to Terrorism Offences) Bill 2019; In Committee
by leave—I move amendment 8713, standing in my name, circulated earlier:
Amdt 8713 - Australian Security Intelligence Organisation Amendment (Sunsetting of Special Powers Relating to Terrorism Offences) Bill 2019
(1) Schedule 1, item 1, page 3 (lines 4 and 5), omit the item, substitute:
1 Section 34ZZ
Repeal the section, substitute:
34ZZ Cessation of effect of Division
(1) This Division (apart from Subdivision C of this Division) ceases to have effect on 7 December 2019.
(2) Subdivision C of this Division ceases to have effect on 7 September 2019.
Labor recognises that this parliament is between a rock and a hard place. The government are proposing to not act on the requirements put on them by the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security some 18 months ago, the requests made of them by three Independent National Security Legislation Monitors and, indeed, the evidence given by ASIO to the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security to repeal questioning and detention warrants and to reform questioning warrants.
ASIO wants a law that is fit for purpose. ASIO wants this law reformed. The government have had over 1,000 days to do this work. These are not complex changes. They have been given advice by three Independent National Security Legislation Monitors—one of them appointed by Tony Abbott. They have been provided detailed advice by the Liberal dominated, Liberal chaired Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security. These laws need to be changed. There has been a call from national security experts for them to be changed. The changes would make Australia safer. They would strengthen the arm of our national security agencies. The government are putting the parliament between a rock and a hard place, because, if we simply allowed these questioning and warrant laws to sunset, frankly ASIO would be left without a power that they need, but they do need it reformed.
So Labor are moving an amendment to say the government don't need 365 days; they've already had 1,000 days. Our amendment is that the government should have three more months—90 more days—to bring forward the changes that our national security agencies want and need and to repeal a power that has been described by Roger Gyles AO QC as 'odious' and that three Independent National Security Legislation Monitors say has no role in our Australian democracy.
Labor asks the crossbench and those opposite to consider the fact that if they vote against this amendment then they are leaving ASIO without the powers that ASIO wants and needs and they are leaving ASIO without those powers for another year. We are asking the government to do this more quickly to benefit our national security agencies and to follow the advice that they have been given over 1,000 days ago by eminent people. This is not the usual opposition getting up and just ranting, raving and railing against government legislation because we want to make a political point. This is actually reflecting the advice of three Independent National Security Legislation Monitors. It is actually reflecting the submission and evidence given by ASIO to the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security. It is actually reflecting the report of the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security, which is dominated by Liberal members and chaired by the Liberal member for Canning.
We call on the government to heed that advice and to move as quickly as possible. Three months is sufficient time. We don't need 365 days. Ninety days should be sufficient. It's regretful that we are even in a circumstance where ASIO has to go one more day longer than necessary without the powers they want and need. I ask the government and crossbench to consider the fact that if this amendment goes down then it means that ASIO will not have the powers it wants and needs for another 365 days. This can be done in 90. It should have been done 90 days ago or 900 days ago, but we are where we are today and that is why Labor is moving this amendment.
The government will not be supporting the amendments moved by the Labor opposition. The government does not support any amendment which would, in effect, reduce the amount of time for the reformed compulsory questioning framework to be properly developed and scrutinised. This is not just about the development. It is also about the scrutinising comprehensively of the new bill by the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security and other stakeholders.
Allowing detention warrants to sunset in isolation, before parliament's consideration of a reformed compulsory questioning framework, would leave ASIO with a significant operational gap. The government intends to repeal questioning and detention warrants and introduce a reformed compulsory questioning framework as soon as possible. Parliament should then be given sufficient time to give due attention and care to its scrutiny of this important legislation. Any changes to the current questioning and detention framework should be carefully considered, not rushed through the parliament.
Rushing changes through without proper consideration and scrutiny runs a great risk of unintended consequences, including for the system of protections, safeguards and oversight embedded in the current legislation. This is a risk that the Morrison government is not prepared to take. Limiting the extension of the sunsetting period, as proposed by this amendment, to three months would not allow the committee sufficient time for the legislation to be developed and reviewed, which is contrary to the committee's 2018 inquiry report. The committee also requested that it be asked to report to the parliament no sooner than three months following the introduction of a detailed amendment bill. Amendments which would reduce the time allowed for the committee's consideration of the bill would also be contrary to the committee's 2018 report.
ASIO's current detention power cannot be repealed in isolation before an alternative mechanism is in place to prevent a person from absconding, destroying things or alerting others to the existence of a warrant. The committee supported an alternative framework to address the significant operational concerns of ASIO. The committee agreed that in the security environment it is essential that agencies have access to a range of effective counterterrorism laws. Repealing detention warrants in isolation is a complex task. The proposed amendments do not take into account the intertwining safeguards, protections and oversight for both questioning warrants and questioning and detention warrants within the legislation. This is a complex legislative amendment that should not be rushed through the parliament without due consideration.
The CHAIR: Order! It being 11.45 the debate is interrupted and the committee will report.