Government response to committee report on the Counter Terrorism Legislation Amendment Bill (No. 1) 2014

25 November 2014

The Government has responded to the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security's (PJCIS) Advisory report on the Counter‑Terrorism Legislation Amendment (No. 1) Bill 2014 (the Bill).

The PJCIS made 16 unanimous recommendations, including, importantly, that the Bill be passed.

Following consultation with all relevant agencies, the Government has decided to accept, or accept-in-principle, all of the recommendations in the report. Thirteen of the recommendations will result in minor amendments to the Bill and Explanatory Memorandum. The other two recommendations will result in small changes to administrative arrangements to enhance operational and administrative safeguards and oversight mechanisms. The PJCIS's final recommendation is that the Bill be passed. The Government will move the amendments in the Senate this week.

This Bill is part of the Government's comprehensive response to the heightened security threat environment, both internationally and at home, in particular to that posed by Australians participating in, and supporting, foreign conflicts or undertaking training with extremist groups.

It will enhance the ability of Australia's law enforcement and intelligence agencies to take timely action in relation to Australian persons who are, or are suspected of being, involved in terrorism-related activity. This includes persons who are enabling or supporting terrorist activity and persons who are suspected of fighting with terrorist organisations in foreign conflicts. The Bill will address pressing legislative limitations identified in the context of present or recent operational activities (both domestic counter-terrorism investigations and Australian Defence Force (ADF) activity against the ISIL terrorist organisation in Iraq).

The Bill will enhance the control order regime in the Criminal Code Act 1995 to allow the Australian Federal Police to seek control orders in relation to a broader range of individuals of security concern, namely those who support or facilitate terrorists and foreign fighters. Amendments to the Intelligence Services Act 2001 will enhance the ability of the Australian Secret Intelligence Service to assist the ADF in support of military operations.

The Government recognises the valuable bipartisan work of the Committee, particularly the Chair, Liberal MP, Dan Tehan and Deputy Chair, Labor MP Anthony Byrne, and thanks everyone who participated in this inquiry.