Committee agrees to revised ASIO powers

House of Representatives

The Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security

today tabled its advisory report on the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation Amendment Bill 2020.

The Committee recommended that, following implementation of the recommendations in its report, the ASIO Amendment Bill 2020 be passed by Parliament.

The Chair of the Committee Mr Andrew Hastie MP said “The Committee made a number of recommendations. In particular and to ensure that the Committee is able to carry out its oversight role appropriately is has recommended that the Bill be amended to allow the Committee to request a written or oral briefing on any matter in relation to any questioning warrant as reported in the Annual Report prepared by the Director-General of ASIO.”

“The Committee takes its oversight role extremely seriously. The powers of ASIO, or indeed any security agency, are not set and forget.” Mr Hastie said.

To provide a greater level of safety for children the Committee recommended that the Bill 2020 should be amended to require the Attorney-General to take into account the best interests of the child as a primary consideration in deciding whether to issue a minor questioning warrant

In addition, the Committee recommended that:

  • the sunsetting time is reduced from 10 to 5 years;
  • the Committee may review the operation, effectiveness and implications of the questioning powers ahead of that sunset date; and,
  • a legal practitioner able to be appointed as a prescribed authority must have engaged in legal practice for at least 10 years and be a Queen’s Counsel or a Senior Counsel.

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