Senate debates

Thursday, 12 August 2021


Counter-Terrorism Legislation Amendment (Sunsetting Review and Other Measures) Bill 2021; Second Reading

11:07 am

Photo of Louise PrattLouise Pratt (WA, Australian Labor Party, Shadow Assistant Minister for Manufacturing) Share this | | Hansard source

Labor supports the Counter-Terrorism Legislation Amendment (Sunsetting Review and Other Measures) Bill 2021. We have in this legislation a range of counterterrorism and other police powers in the Crimes Act 1914 and the Criminal Code Act 1995, which are due to expire on 7 September 2021. The powers are declared areas provisions, the control order regime, the preventative detention regime and a range of stop-and-search seizure powers. This bill extends the sunset dates on each of these powers. It allows the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security to conduct a review of the operation, effectiveness and proportionality of declared areas provisions prior to the new sunset clause.

Finally, the bill would amend the Independent National Security Legislation Monitor Act to give the Independent National Security Legislation Monitor more time to finalise their review of the continuing detention order regime, control order prevention, preventative detention and stop-and-search seizure powers, which are all due to expire on 7 September this year and are currently under review by the Intelligence and Security Committee. We support the proposed extension of the sunset dates to 7 December of next year. This extension ensures that the intelligence and security committee has sufficient time to complete its review prior to sunsetting and the government will have sufficient time to work through and respond to any recommendations made by the committee.

The declared areas provisions are in a different category. The declared areas provisions of the Criminal Code allow the Minister for Foreign Affairs to declare an area in a foreign country if he or she is satisfied that a listed terrorist organisation is engaging in hostile activity in that area of the foreign country and make it an offence for a person to enter or remain in a declared area subject to a number of limited exceptions set out in 119.2 of the Criminal Code, such as providing aid of a humanitarian nature, performing an official duty for the Commonwealth or visiting a family member. The committee recommended that the sunset date of the powers be extended to 7 September 2024 and that the Intelligence and Security Committee be empowered to conduct a review of those powers at any time prior to that date. The bill implements both of those recommendations.

The Intelligence and Security Committee also recommended that the declared areas provisions be amended to allow Australian citizens to request an exemption from the Minister for Foreign Affairs to travel to a declared area for a reason not listed in section 119.2 of the Criminal Code. Labor notes that, following extensive consultation with government agencies, including ASIO and the AFP, the former Independent National Security Legislation Monitor, Dr James Renwick, made a similar recommendation in 2017. The government has argued that this recommendation could not be effectively implemented and monitored and the time and resources required to obtain information to assess the application would be significant and would divert security and intelligence resources from other national security priorities.

Labor, on this matter, are not persuaded. We think that the government should implement the committee's bipartisan and unanimous recommendations. Labor recognise the implementation is not without its challenges. Because of that complexity, and the national security context, we think it is an amendment that should be drafted following close consultation with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and Australia's national security agencies. That is why Labor are moving a second reading amendment calling on the government to implement the recommendation. Subject to that qualification, I commend the bill to the Senate. We haven't circulated it. I note that Labor moved that second reading amendment in the House of Representatives and we'll reflect on that in the course of this debate.

11:12 am

Photo of Lidia ThorpeLidia Thorpe (Victoria, Australian Greens) Share this | | Hansard source

[by video link] I rise with disappointment, it must be said, as I sought to refer the Counter-Terrorism Legislation Amendment (Sunsetting Review and Other Measures) Bill 2021 to committee. I would still like to do that because it is important that this parliament review this legislation and provide proper community consultation. That's what we're here for, right? We don't represent ourselves. We represent the people who put us here. So we have a duty of care to take it back to the people.

I know the Liberals and the red Liberals don't want to do their jobs today. We know that the committee that the previous senator spoke about doesn't even have Greens representation on it. It's just a Liberal-Labor cosy affair that makes decisions for this country without consultation of the people. So I remind you all that you have to do your jobs. You get COMCAR to pick you up in the morning because it's taking you to do your job, and you have to do your job. Because you are failing in this regard, it's all the more reason why we need to have more Greens in power so that we have balance of power and so that we can hold you all accountable.

The Morrison government just realised that the provisions are about to expire. What? Who's running this country right now that they allowed legislation to expire when we're talking about terrorism legislation? Wake up! What are they doing? But obviously that's how they operate—do nothing until the very last minute and then try and look like they're doing something. Well, you can't con this little black gin. The—

Debate interrupted.

Photo of Scott RyanScott Ryan (President) Share this | | Hansard source

Order! Senator Thorpe, you'll be in continuation when debate resumes.