Committee recommends extending sunset date of declared areas provisions of Criminal Code

House of Representatives

Parliament’s Intelligence and Security Committee has tabled a report today recommending the declared areas provisions of the Criminal Code be extended for a further three years.

In its report on the ‘declared area’ provisions, which make it an offence for a person to enter, or remain in, declared areas of a foreign country, the Committee recommended:

  • a new sunset date of 7 September 2024 for the declared areas provisions of the Criminal Code
  • the Criminal Code be amended to provide that the PJCIS may review the operation and effectiveness of the declared areas provisions prior to the new sunset date
  • within 18 months of this report, the Committee receive a briefing from government agencies on the use, proportionality and effectiveness of the declared areas provisions
  • the Criminal Code be amended to allow Australian citizens to request an exemption from the Minister for Foreign Affairs to travel to a declared area for reasons not listed in section 119.2. The Minister’s decision would not be subject to a merit review

The Committee’s review was required under section 29(1) of the Intelligence Services Act 2001 and conducted by the previous Chair Mr Andrew Hastie MP.

The new Chair of the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security, Senator James Paterson, said the Committee considered the uncertain geopolitical environment exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic in making the recommendations.

In presenting the report Senator Paterson said, ‘Although there are no current declared areas, the committee agreed it was not prudent to revoke this power for the Foreign Minister during a period of great uncertainty. The committee will however continue to review the operation and necessity of the provisions if the government seeks to extend the sunset date as recommended.’

The report can be obtained from the Committee’s website.

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