Thursday, 3 September 2020
Australian Citizenship Amendment (Citizenship Cessation) Bill 2020; In Committee
by leave—I move amendments (1) and (2) on sheet 1039 together:
(1) Schedule 1, page 19 (after line 25) , after the heading specifying Intelligence Services Act 2001 , insert:
14A Paragraph 29(1) (a)
After "to review the", insert "activities,".
(2) Schedule 1, Part 1, page 20 (after line 2), at the end of the Part, add:
15A Subsections 29(3) and (4)
Repeal the subsections, substitute:
(3) The functions of the Committee do not include:
(a) reviewing information provided by, or by an agency of, a foreign government where that government does not consent to the disclosure of the information; or
15B After section 29
29A Ceasing or suspending review of agency activities
(a) the Committee undertakes a review under section 29 of an activity by ASIO, ASIS, AGO, DIO, ASD or ONI; and
(b) the relevant responsible Minister is of the opinion that:
(i) the activity is an ongoing operation; and
(ii) the review would interfere with the proper performance by the relevant body of its functions or otherwise prejudice Australia's national security or the conduct of Australia's foreign relations;
the Minister may give to the Committee a certificate in relation to the matter stating the Minister's opinion and the reasons for it.
(2) A decision of the Minister under subsection (1) must not be questioned in any court or tribunal.
(3) Where the Minister gives a certificate under subsection (1) in relation to a review, the Committee must cease or suspend the review.
(4) If the Minister:
(a) becomes aware that the activity is no longer ongoing; or
(b) is no longer of the opinion that the review would interfere with the proper performance by the relevant body of its functions or otherwise prejudice Australia's national security or the conduct of Australia's foreign relations;
the Minister must, within 28 days after becoming aware of the fact or forming the view:
(c) revoke the certificate; and
(d) inform the Committee in writing.
(5) If the Minister revokes a certificate in accordance with subsection (4), the Committee may proceed with the review, or commence a new review into the activity.
Very briefly, this is an amendment that seeks to enable the PJCIS to have operational oversight of our intelligence services.
I rise in response to the amendment that Senator Patrick has moved on sheet 1039. The amendment would have the effect of repealing the limitations on operational oversight of intelligence agencies to the PJCIS. I do advise the chamber that the government, as I think you know, Senator Patrick, will not be supporting the amendment put forward.
The reason for that is as follows. Senator Patrick seeks to amend this particular bill to provide the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security with operational oversight of intelligence agencies. Senator Patrick, though, would be aware that the government's longstanding position is that operational oversight of Australia's intelligence, security and law enforcement agencies is appropriately conducted by independent statutory bodies. Again, as Senator Patrick would be aware—and I have listened to Senator Patrick carefully—Commonwealth legislation does provide oversight bodies robust powers to conduct this oversight. In fact, as senators in the chamber would be aware, the Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security has the powers of a standing royal commission, and they are very, very serious powers, as you would know, Madam Chair Askew.
The Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security has extensive powers to oversee and inquire into the legality and propriety of national intelligence community operations. In fact, Senator Patrick, when you were commenting on what you thought the government would say in response to your amendment, you acknowledged that the Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security regularly appears before the PJCIS—otherwise known as the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security—on non-operational matters and that the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security may also request the Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security to brief the committee. So that option is certainly open to the committee should they wish to exercise it. The government's view is that this amendment would duplicate existing oversight provided and that existing arrangements appropriately—
The TEMPORARY CHAIR: Minister, it being 4.30, and pursuant to the order, the committee will now report its progress.