A former Federal Court judge has been appointed as the Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security (IGIS). Margaret Stone was a Federal Court judge between October 2000 and December 2012. She will serve as IGIS for a term of five years beginning 24 August, replacing incumbent Dr Vivienne Thom whose term will finish on July 18.
The office of the IGIS is an independent statutory office who reviews the activities of Australia’s six intelligence agencies commonly referred to as the “Australian Intelligence Community.” Ms Stone, in her new role, will be responsible for reviewing the activities of six of Australia’s intelligence agencies, including ASIO, the Australian Secret Intelligence Service, Australian Signals Directorate, Australian Geospatial Intelligence Organisation, Defence Intelligence Organisation and the Office of National Assessments. The office sets out to ensure that the agencies act legally and with propriety as well as comply with ministerial guidelines and directives and respect human rights.
The IGIS has the ability to undertake former inquiries into the activities of any agency in the Australian Intelligence Community in response to a complaint or a reference from a minister. The office also has the capabilities to initiate inquiries independently and conduct regular inspections and monitoring of agency activities.
The office has a great deal of power to enable it to carry out its inquiries efficiently. It can require the attendance of witnesses, take sworn evidence, copy and retain documents as well as the power to enter an Australian intelligence agency’s premises.
Vivienne Thom was appointed as Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security for a five year term on 19 July 2010 and her term comes to an end on 18 July 2015. Prime Minister Tony Abbott commends her for carrying out the role with diligence and integrity. Jack Blight will act as the IGIS in the interim period until Ms Stone starts her new job.
The Prime Minister said of Ms. Stone:
"Ms Stone has had a distinguished legal career and was a judge of the Federal Court of Australia from 2000 to 2012…She has been the Independent Reviewer of Adverse Security Assessments since December 2012."
In the job described by the Prime Minister, Ms Stone analysed the ASIO assessments that determined refugees to be a security risk in Australia. The Prime Minister goes on to assure that Ms Stone will bring a wealth of experience and expertise to her new position.
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