Media Release: Labor Acts on Intelligence Oversight
10.25am | February 25, 2020
SHADOW CABINET SECRETARY
SHADOW ASSISTANT MINISTER TO THE LABOR LEADER IN THE SENATE
SENATOR FOR NEW SOUTH WALES
LABOR ACTS ON INTELLIGENCE OVERSIGHT
Senator Jenny McAllister will introduce a Private Senator’s Bill to strengthen the oversight arrangements for Australia’s intelligence and security agencies.
The Bill implements the oversight recommendations made by the Government’s 2017 Independent Intelligence Review. Despite the Morrison Government accepting this report, these recommendations remain unimplemented.
“Labor believes that as the powers of national security agencies increase, so should the oversight of those agencies”, said Senator McAllister.
“Unfortunately, like its approach on so many matters of accountability, the Morrison Government has dragged the chain on implementing important recommendations from its own review.”
“Strong and effective oversight mechanisms do not stand in opposition to our national security arrangements – they are best understood as an essential part of them.”
The Bill builds on similar bills initiated by Senator Faulkner and advanced by Senator Wong in previous parliaments.
Senator McAllister’s Bill enhances the role of the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security (PJCIS) as the primary mechanism for parliamentary oversight, building on its existing role inquiring into proposed national security legislation and reviewing the administration and expenditure of agencies.
The committee’s ability to cooperate with two key oversight agencies, the Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security (IGIS) and Independent National Security Legislation Monitor (INSLM) will expand.
Crucially, both the IGIS and PJCIS will gain oversight of the intelligence activities of Departments such as Home Affairs that are not currently subject to specialist intelligence oversight.
The Independent Intelligence Review recognised it is critical in a democracy that intelligence agencies are subject to strong oversight and accountability mechanisms, describing such oversight as a central tenet of the ‘state of trust’ between intelligence services and the community of which they are part.
“Strong and effective oversight measures do not represent a lack of trust in the intelligence community –they represent an investment in the trust they need to successfully perform their roles and protect the community within a democracy,” said Senator McAllister
“There is no reason for the Morrison Government to continue ignore their own recommendations – why must the Liberals always say one thing but do another?” said Senator McAllister.
“There is no reason for the Morrison Government to continue ignore these recommendations. Labor is acting. The Morrison Government should back these crucial changes.”
MONDAY, 24 FEBRUARY 2020
MEDIA CONTACT: LEILA STENNETT 0436 632 388