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Committee to scrutinise Administrative Review Tribunal Bills

THE House of Representatives Standing Committee on Social Policy and Legal Affairs has commenced an inquiry into the Administrative Review Tribunal Bill 2023 (ART Bill) and the Administrative Review Tribunal (Consequential and Transitional Provisions No.1) Bill 2023 (Consequential and Transitional Bill).

Chair of the committee, Susan Templeman MP said, "The committee is seeking written submissions by 18 January 2024 to assist in its scrutiny of the ART Bill and Consequential and Transitional Bill to ensure the bills achieve the Government’s policy objectives and do not have unintended consequences, but will accept submissions after that date."

The ART Bill would establish the Administrative Review Tribunal (Tribunal) and set out its key features, processes and procedures. The Consequential and Transitional Bill repeals the Administrative Appeals Tribunal Act 1975, makes consequential amendments to a number of Commonwealth Acts and provides for the transition of the Administrative Appeals Tribunal’s (AAT) operations, caseload and staff to the Tribunal. The Bills are intended to, among other things:

  • provide for a mechanism of review that is fair and just; timely, informal and inexpensive; accessible and responsive; improve the transparency and quality of government decision-making and improve public trust and confidence in the tribunal;
  • re-establish the Administrative Review Council;
  • retain the jurisdiction of the AAT within the tribunal and essential modifications to the operation of the merits review framework;
  • promote consistency and simplicity by repealing special arrangements that overlap, duplicate or unnecessarily displace core provisions of the ART Bill.

The bills would implement all three recommendations of the Senate Legal and Constitutional Affairs Committee’s inquiry into the performance and integrity of Australia’s administrative review system, four recommendations of the Royal Commission into the Robodebt Scheme and two recommendations of the Rapid Review into the Exploitation of Australia's Visa System.

Further information about the inquiry is available on the Committee's webpage.



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Intelligence and Security Committee to review new citizenship repudiation law

IN RESPONSE to a Senate Resolution of December 4, 2023, the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security (PJCIS) has commenced an inquiry into the operation, effectiveness and implications of new provisions in the Australian Citizenship Act 2007 (Citizenship Act), implemented by the Australian Citizenship Amendment (Citizenship Repudiation) Act 2023 (Citizenship Repudiation Act).

The Citizenship Repudiation Act was passed by Parliament on December 4, 2023, following High Court decisions which determined that the citizenship cessation regime previously set out in Subdivision C of Division 3 of Part 2 of the Citizenship Act was unconstitutional.

The Citizenship Repudiation Act repealed and replaced the relevant provisions to now provide that the Minister may make an application to a court to make a citizenship cessation order in certain circumstances, as part of sentencing on conviction of a person for certain serious offences. On receiving such an application, the court may, as part of sentencing the person to a period or periods of imprisonment, also order that they cease to be an Australian citizen.

At the direction of the Senate, the committee will also consider amendments proposed in the Senate which did not pass and do not form part of the final Act. These amendments are available on the Committee’s website.

Chair of the PJCIS, Peter Khalil MP said, “This review will provide a valuable opportunity to consider the new citizenship repudiation law that needed to be very rapidly put in place by Parliament following the decisions of the High Court. The review provides the opportunity to examine the operation, effectiveness and implications of the new citizenship repudiation regime, as well as amendments that were proposed during the Senate’s consideration of it.

“The committee will carefully consider the new law and looks forward to receiving the views of interested people and organisations on it,” Mr Khalil said.

The committee has combined this review with its current review of Subdivision C of Division 3 of Part 2 of the Australian Citizenship Act 2007 and will report on both reviews together.

The committee has requested submissions to the inquiry by Thursday, February 8, 2024. Any submissions made to the committee’s statutory Review of Subdivision C of Division 3 of Part 2 of the Australian Citizenship Act 2007 will be taken as a submission to this inquiry.

Further information on the inquiry can be obtained from the Committee’s website.



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PJCIS to review further intelligence reforms

AT THE REQUEST of the Minister for Home Affairs, the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security (PJCIS) has commenced a review of the National Security Legislation Amendment (Comprehensive Review and Other Measures No.3) Bill 2023.

The Bill would amend several pieces of national security legislation to address twelve recommendations of the 2020 Comprehensive Review of the Legal Framework of the National Intelligence Community (known as the Richardson Review), and to make other amendments identified as necessary by the intelligence community.

Key amendments proposed by the Bill seek to:

  • strengthen protections around the identity of employees of the Australian Signals Directorate (ASD), Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO) and Australian Secret Intelligence Service (ASIS);
  • improve the ability of ASIO to communicate information, and provide additional protections for individuals communicating certain information;
  • increase operational flexibility through updated approval processes for certain intelligence activities;
  • clarify provisions relating to the authorisation of certain intelligence activities;
  • provide for quicker processing of non-prejudicial security clearance suitability assessments;
  • require ASIO to notify the Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security when certain security assessments, security clearance decisions, and security clearance suitability assessments have not been made or furnished within 12 months;
  • clarify that only the Attorney-General, and not junior ministers, can exercise certain powers relating to ASIO and to telecommunications.

Mr Peter Khalil MP, Chair of the PJCIS, said, “The committee looks forward to receiving the views of interested parties on the reforms proposed by the Bill, which aim to further refine and enhance the legal framework governing Australia’s intelligence agencies.”

Submissions to the inquiry are invited by Friday, February 2, 2024.

Further information on the inquiry can be obtained from the Committee’s website.



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Treaties Committee recommends ratification of Amendments to the Annex of the Convention on Facilitation of International Maritime Traffic

THE Joint Standing Committee on Treaties has tabled a report recommending the ratification of the Amendments to the Annex of the Convention on Facilitation of International Maritime Traffic, 1965 (FAL Convention Amendments).

The FAL Convention facilitates international maritime traffic and prevents unnecessary delays, aids cooperation between governments and secures uniformity, to the highest practicable degree in maritime procedures and formalities. The Annex to the Convention contains Standards and Recommended Practices on formalities, documentary requirements and procedures for the arrival, stay or departure of ships. The Annex also contains implementation procedures and appendices with additional information.

The Amendments to the Annex cover topics such as definitions and general provisions, illicit activities, digitalisation of vessel reporting requirements, identification, treatment of stowaways, public health, and implementation.

Committee Chair Josh Wilson MP said, "As a signatory to the original treaty, the Convention on Facilitation of International Maritime Traffic, Australia is a strong supporter of ensuring the streamlining and simplification of maritime traffic.

"The FAL Convention ensures that there is a standard, consistent, harmonised approach to maritime traffic around the world. Cooperation between governments on these issues is important in ensuring international standards and that Australia is in alignment with those standards," Mr Wilson said.

The committee noted the support of the government and from industry for the treaty.

The committee supported ratification and recommended that binding treaty action be taken.

The report can be found on the Committee website, along with further information on the inquiry.



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Australian Food Story report released

THE Australian Parliament’s Agriculture Committee has released its report for its inquiry into food security in Australia. The inquiry examined ways to strengthen and safeguard Australia’s food security, focussing on production, supply chains and key inputs, as well as climate change, biosecurity and food insecurity.

Committee Chair, Meryl Swanson MP said, "Despite Australia being one of the most food secure countries in the world, recent developments both at home and abroad have shown that food security presents real and growing challenges to the nation.

"Food security is not something that any of us can take for granted. COVID-19, floods, the effects of the war in Ukraine, and outbreaks of foot and mouth disease and lumpy skin disease in Indonesia have highlighted risks to our food system.

"Systemic change is required so that all Australians, and those that depend on Australian food production, will be food secure. Consultation, cooperation, coordination and innovation are the keys to food security," Ms Swanson said.

The committee has made 35 recommendations to address food security in Australia, including:

  • creating a comprehensive National Food Plan;
  • appointing a Minister for Food;
  • establishing a National Food Council;
  • developing a National Food Supply Chain Map;
  • measures to facilitate innovation in the production of food; and
  • measures to eliminate food waste.

The report also proposes measures to improve sustainability and resilience in the food supply chain, improve access to labour, and reduce food insecurity.

Over the course of the inquiry, the committee held 24 public hearings, visited numerous sites around Australia, and received 188 written submissions from individuals, industry and community groups and government bodies.

The committee has thanked all those who took part in the inquiry by providing written submissions and giving evidence at public hearings or hosted the committee on site visits. The committee said it was "particularly grateful to those who took time out of their days to host the committee at various sites around the country and the insights this provided into the work of providing for the food security of Australians".

The full report can be found on the committee’s inquiry webpage.



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