The Albanese Government is committed to effective and robust oversight of Australia’s intelligence agencies.
Today, I introduced legislation that strengthens the oversight powers of the Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security (IGIS), so they are better matched with the significant powers of the national intelligence agencies.
Established by the Hawke Government in 1986, the IGIS is an independent statutory office holder which reviews the activities of Australia’s intelligence agencies to ensure they are acting legally, acting with propriety and respecting human rights.
The Bill includes important amendments to ensure that whistleblowers are not prevented from disclosing information that may otherwise be subject to secrecy offences.
The Bill will strengthen the IGIS’s powers to enter and remain on any premises and to have full and free access to any information held by an intelligence agency.
It also implements two recommendations of the 2019 Comprehensive Review of the Legal Framework of the National Intelligence Community by Denis Richardson AC which promote the independence of the IGIS and resolve an oversight gap to ensure staff access to independent review for employment matters.
The Government is continuing to consider enhanced oversight arrangements for national intelligence agencies including whether to expand the jurisdiction of the IGIS and the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security to cover additional agencies.
Strong and effective oversight bodies such as IGIS are crucial to strengthening the rule of law in Australia.
This bill will provide the Government and the people of Australia with certainty and trust that our intelligence agencies are acting appropriately and in accordance with the law.