Monday, 14 October 2019
Crimes Legislation Amendment (Police Powers at Airports) Bill 2019; In Committee
I move amendment (2) on sheet 8776.
(2) Schedule 1, item 1, page 11 (after line 17), at the end of Division 3B, add:
3UV Review of Division
(1) The Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security must review:
(a) the operation, effectiveness and implications of this Division; and
(b) security matters relating to major airports.
(2) The Committee must begin the review before the end of the period of 3 years beginning on the day the Crimes Legislation Amendment (Police Powers at Airports) Act 2019 commenced.
(3) The Committee must report on the review to each House of the Parliament before the end of the period of 9 months beginning on the day the review commences.
Amendment (2), as moved by Senator Patrick, would require the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security to review the operation, effectiveness and implications of this division and security matters relating to major airports. This is a very wise amendment from Senator Patrick.
These are particularly draconian laws that the Senate is about to pass with collusion between the two major parties, as we always get on issues of national security, on issues of counterterrorism and on issues of border control. I just want to warn the majors again that they are walking this country down the road to a police state and a surveillance state. I've been saying this until I'm blue in the face in this place, but the major parties continue to collude to strip away fundamental rights and freedoms in Australia.
The Australian Greens don't think they should be doing that. We think it's a very dangerous path for this country to be taking. But, if they are going to do it, they've got to put in place checks and balances. That is what Senator Patrick is attempting to do here today: put in place a check and a balance that would require the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security to review these new powers. Remember that these are powers the government have comprehensively failed to make an argument for. We have a terrorism threat level that is in exactly the same place it was five years ago. The government have continually failed to be able to demonstrate that the risk is increasing any faster around airports than it is around any other major infrastructure in this country, and yet they want to walk into this place and bring in the 'papers please' legislation that we're dealing with here today. This is a sad day in our country's history, and I urge the Senate: if you are going to do the dumb thing and pass this legislation, at least build some checks and balances into it, as Senator Patrick is attempting to do.
Labor is supporting the second amendment on sheet 8776 that has been put forward by Senator Patrick. We support this clause providing oversight and review of this legislation through the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security. This is the key role of the PJCIS—to review our national security laws and ensure that they're fit for purpose, effective and adaptable to emerging threats, as Senator Cash herself has highlighted.
On announcing the creation of the Home Affairs portfolio in July 2017, the then Prime Minister of our nation, Prime Minister Turnbull, said:
When it comes to our nation's security, we must stay ahead of the threats against us. There is no room for complacency. There is no room for set and forget.
Our current Prime Minister, Scott Morrison, has used the same phrase when describing everything from Australia's foreign policy, when he said, 'The rules and institutions that support global cooperation must reflect the modern world; it can't be set and forget,' to his emergency response to the drought, when he said, 'Our drought response is not set and forget.' So today, here in this chamber, let's heed the call and not set and forget. Today we can amend this bill in order to ensure that the legislation is creating the best possible outcomes for all Australians. We support this amendment.
The government will not be opposing this amendment, but does note that a further PJCIS review is unnecessary. The Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security inquired into the bill and did not identify a need to review the operation of the division and security matters relating to major airports after four years. Existing parliamentary committee mechanisms already provide suitable opportunities to review these new powers. For example, the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Law Enforcement has a function to monitor, review and report on the performance by the AFP of its functions and to examine trends and changes in criminal activities, practices and methods.
Further, the AFP, as an organisation, is already subject to extensive oversight mechanisms. The AFP also has robust government mechanisms in place, including an internal audit team. The team conducts regular reviews, including a current review into how the agency implements Commonwealth legislation. The AFP is establishing a working group to coordinate the implementation required for all aspects of the police powers at airports bill. The number of identity check directions and move-on directions each year will also be reported in the AFP annual report, as recommended by the PJCIS. But in the interest of the timely passage of this important legislation, as I've stated, the government will not oppose the amendment.
Question agreed to.
I move Centre Alliance amendment (1) on sheet 8776:
(1) Schedule 1, item 1, page 3 (before line 8), before section 3UL, insert:
3ULA Expiration of this Division
This Division is repealed at the start of the day after the end of the period of 4 years beginning on the day the Crimes Legislation Amendment (Police Powers at Airports) Act 2019 commenced.
Whenever we create a power for use by our security services or our police services, we need to be careful and we need to be, in some sense, positive about moving forward and retaining the power. I'm very grateful that my amendment in respect of the review got through. It's fitting then that, if you have a review by the PJCIS, and the PJCIS were to make a finding or want to adjust things, we would see legislation drafted by no doubt a future government. So, it's proper that we put in a sunset clause that follows the review, that requires—as every citizen who respects the rights of freedom and liberty—the government to then extend the power if indeed it was found necessary. It's with that view that I put the motion. I do indicate that I'll listen to the responses of Labor and Liberals and possibly we won't divide on this but of course would urge an indication of support. Thank you.
Once again, the Australian Greens will be supporting the amendment put forward by Senator Patrick. I just want to talk a little bit about sunset clauses in general. It's important that people understand that parliaments can effectively roll over sunset clauses. Just because the parliament might decide today to put a sunset clause into this amendment bill, that does not mean that the powers created by this amendment bill would necessarily cease when the date of sunset arrives. Sunsets can effectively be rolled over. But even if they are rolled over, they are an important instrument, because they basically ensure that the full parliament will actually examine this legislation again, in this case in four years, as Senator Patrick has suggested for the sunset period. That's very important with legislation like this, which is draconian and removes fundamental rights and freedoms from Australian people.
So, anyone who is opposing this is just basically opposing a simple check and a balance. And to forestall the obvious argument that I suspect will be made against what I've just said—which is, 'Oh, we've just agreed that the PJCIS should review this division'—I'd just remind Labor and Liberal senators that in fact the crossbench, which is actually operating in a very constructive way here this evening and has obtained the support of the Senate in one of Senator Patrick's amendments, is not represented on the PJCIS. It is a closed shop where the dirty deals get done between the two major parties in this place to keep marching us down the road to a police state and a surveillance state in Australia. That's what happens in the PJCIS. The control freaks are happy, but those of us who want a genuine debate in this country about whether we would prefer to lose fundamental rights and freedoms or take a bit more risk in our lives and come down against the removal of fundamental rights and freedoms—and I am squarely in that camp, by the way, if you hadn't picked it up—are not happy with the PJCIS review, and we want to see the full parliament required to at least consider this legislation at a regular interval. Senator Patrick's amendment that would seek to create a sunset clause in this amendment bill is an appropriate mechanism to do that, and it will be supported by the Australian Greens.
I rise to speak in support of the amendment moved by Senator Patrick for a sunset provision. I must say that Labor is persuaded by the debate in the Senate that whilst these do not represent a significant extension of powers—indeed, you could proffer the position that this is a streamlining and a clarifying piece of legislation—nonetheless it is a change of police powers at our airports. Given that the Senate has just decided, without a division, to support a review of this legislation, Labor sees no harm that would be done by supporting this amendment to insert a sunset provision. Indeed, if the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security is going to conduct a review of this legislation in three years time, it is not an unreasonable position that the parliament would then make a decision based on the outcome of that review and need to take an affirmative decision, one way or another, on whether to extend these new powers being provided to the police.
I do need to put on record that Labor strongly supports the Australian Federal Police and strongly supports measures that seek to keep our nation safe from, in particular, the persistent threat of terrorism and of bringing drugs and other contraband in through our airports. And Labor understands the important role that our airports play in terms of jobs, economic growth, tourism and the economy more broadly. However, when we have an extension of powers and it raises questions about whether those powers are being used effectively, and it does no harm, it is appropriate that these powers be reviewed. Given the fact that the Senate has just voted for an amendment supporting a review, and done so without division, Labor is persuaded by the arguments put by Centre Alliance. Perhaps I was almost dissuaded by the argument put by Senator McKim—as he enters the chamber! However, notwithstanding the comments from Senator McKim, Labor is convinced that it does no harm to support a sunset provision given that the Senate has supported a review. Therefore, we will be voting for the amendment.
Once again, I reaffirm the Morrison government's firm commitment and duty to protecting Australians and our international visitors from the very real and unique threats to our aviation environment posed by violent extremists and nefarious organised crime groups. On that basis, we will not be supporting the amendment put forward by Senator Patrick.
Senator Patrick seeks to amend this bill to provide that these new measures, measures developed to keep the Australian public safe, are repealed, sunsetted, after four years. Airports are attractive targets for terrorists and focal points for serious and organised crime groups seeking to expand their illicit operations both within Australia and abroad. Currently, police rely on a patchwork of Commonwealth, state and territory laws to address the criminal safety and security threats at major Australian airports. The measures in this bill will address some of this complexity by giving police consistent and appropriate powers to respond to these threats and protect Australians.
The threats to our aviation network are not static and are not simply going to disappear or diminish in four years. We need to ensure that police powers continue to evolve in parallel with the threat environment. The new powers in the bill were developed based on operational advice from the AFP. The AFP will continue to monitor security threats to major airports from terrorism and serious and organised crime. For these reasons the government will not be supporting this amendment.
The CHAIR: The question is that amendment (1) be agreed to.
Bill reported with amendments; report adopted.