The Office of National Intelligence Bill 2018 (CTH) (the ‘ONI Bill’) and the Office of National Intelligence (Consequential and Transitional Provisions) Bill 2018 (CTH) (the ‘Transitional Bill’) were introduced to the Commonwealth Parliament as a response to recommendations in the 2017 Independent Intelligence Review (the ‘Review’). Both the ONI Bill and Transitional Bill were referred to the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security (the ‘Committee’) on 28 June 2018. The Advisory Report on the Office of National Intelligence Bill 2018 and the Office of National Intelligence (Consequential and Transitional Provisions) Bill 2018 (the ‘Report’) was tabled on 24 October 2018.
The Review was conducted by the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet and was released on 18 July 2017. As summarised on the Department’s website:
“The Review examined the environment in which the intelligence community operates, and considered how effectively it serves Australia’s national interests. In particular the suitability of the current structural, legislative and oversight architecture of the intelligence community was considered.”
The Review made 23 general recommendations, including the establishment of the Office of National Intelligence (‘ONI’), which was to be an independent statutory agency that would report directly to the Prime Minister. ONI would also be the continuation of the Office of National Assessments (‘ONA’), which was established in February 1978 as a result of Australia’s first Royal Commission review into its intelligence and security agencies.
The ONI Bill was introduced on 28 June 2018 by the Attorney-General in the House of Representatives. As summarised in its explanatory statement:
“Specifically the Bill implements the recommendations of the Review in relation to ONI, including by the following:
The Transitional Bill was introduced alongside the ONI Bill on 28 June 2018 by the Attorney-General. This Bill amends 19 different acts to assist in the proposed operation of the ONI Bill to establish ONI and will repeal the Office of National Assessments Act 1977 (CTH) which established ONA.
The Report says that the Committee looked at:
“the provisions of both bills, and how the proposed legislation reflects the recommendations from the Review. The Committee also examined whether ONI has been given adequate powers and functions to lead a better coordinated and more integrated intelligence community, and looked at any impact on the existing roles and statutory functions of the other Australian intelligence agencies.”
The Report listed 6 recommendations:
The Committee concluded that in their view, the establishment of the ONI by the two bills would create a better co-ordinated and integrated National Intelligence Community, thus meeting the recommendations set out in the Review.
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The Office of National Intelligence (Consequential and Transitional Provisions) Bill 2018 (CTH) and supporting materials available from Timebase's LawOne service.
The Office of National Intelligence Bill 2018 (CTH) and supporting materials available from Timebase's LawOne service.
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