Government response to committee report on National Security Legislation Amendment Bill (no 1)2014

19 September 2014

The Government has responded to the inquiry of the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security (PJCIS), into the National Security Legislation Amendment Bill (No 1) 2014 (the Bill). We thank the Committee for its thorough, constructive and bipartisan review which recommends that the Bill be passed subject to a handful of targeted amendments.

The Government has decided to support all of the Committee’s 17 recommendations, which were contained in its report tabled on 17 September, and will move amendments to implement them when the Bill is debated in the Senate next week.

The Committee’s recommendations focus on oversight and reporting requirements applying to ASIO’s warrant-based intelligence collection activities, and the proposed new scheme of special intelligence operations. The Committee made useful recommendations to ensure that the proposed new offences in the Bill will not discourage people from disclosing information to the Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security, for the purpose of the Inspector-General’s independent statutory oversight of intelligence agencies.

The Committee has further recommended that the Government initiate a review of the Attorney-General’s Guidelines to ASIO, which set out requirements that ASIO must follow in carrying out its functions, including in relation to individuals’ privacy.

The Government agrees with the Committee’s assessment that its recommendations will further enhance the integrity of the Bill. The recommended measures will also help strengthen public confidence that the proposed reforms are accompanied by significant safeguards, and cannot be exercised in a way that exceeds their legitimate policy intent.

The Bill is an important contribution to the future capability of Australia’s intelligence agencies. The Government recognises the valuable work of the Committee, and particularly its Chair, Mr Dan Tehan MP, and Deputy Chair, The Hon Anthony Byrne MP. We thank all those who participated in its inquiry. The Government also acknowledges the ongoing bipartisan support from the Opposition on this Bill and national security matters more broadly.

Government response to the Committee’s recommendations [PDF 324KB]