Intelligence Committee supports passage of national security bill

THE Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security today presented its Advisory Report on the National Security Legislation Amendment (Comprehensive Review and Other Measures No. 3) Bill 2023.

The Bill implements 12 recommendations of the 2020 Comprehensive Review of the Legal Framework of the National Intelligence Community conducted by Dennis Richardson AC (Comprehensive Review). The Bill also makes important amendments to the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation Act 1979 to assist Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO) officers to perform their vital functions safely and effectively.

The measures contained within the Bill will support Australia’s national security agencies by strengthening identity protections for their employees, increasing operational flexibility and information sharing, clarifying some authorities and approvals processes to provide greater certainty, and supporting quicker processing of security clearance suitability assessments. The committee supported these measures and recommended that the Bill be passed, subject to several recommendations.

The committee’s recommendations included that the Federal Government:

  • provide further clarification on the use of cover employment arrangements;
  • strengthen notification to individuals who are subject to ASIO security assessments, including as part of security clearance processes, about their right to make complaints; and
  • enhance transparency about delayed security assessments by including them in ASIO’s annual report.

The committee also recommended the government consider the need to align amendments to secrecy offences in the Bill with the findings, once published, of the review of secrecy offences legislation being conducted by the Independent National Security Legislation Monitor, Jake Blight.

Committee Chair Peter Khalil MP said, “With the passage of this Bill, the government is delivering on its commitment to implementing the recommendations of the Comprehensive Review to ensure that our national security legislation remains fit-for-purpose.

“Modernisation of our security legislation enables our intelligence agencies to conduct their vital work effectively while also ensuring that appropriate oversight and safeguards are in place," Mr Khalil said.

The committee received both public and classified evidence related to the proposed amendments in the Bill and said it was grateful to those submitters for contributing their expertise to the inquiry.

Further information on the inquiry as well as a copy of the report can be obtained from the Committee’s website.



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