The Australian Security Intelligence Organisation Amendment Bill 2020 (Cth) (“the Bill”) was introduced into Federal Parliament’s House of Representatives on 13 May 2020 by the Hon Peter Dutton, the Minister for Home Affairs. The Bill is currently before the House of Representatives.
The primary amendments are proposed to affect the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation Act 1979 (Cth), while consequential technical amendments are proposed for the following legislation:
According to the Explanatory Memorandum, the object of the Bill is to “amend the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation’s (ASIO’s) compulsory questioning and surveillance device powers under the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation Act 1979 (‘ASIO Act’).”
The Bill will also implement the Government’s response to the report by theinto the operation, effectiveness and implications of the ASIO Act’s existing compulsory questioning framework.
To implement the suggestions outlined in Joint Committee's Report, the Bill will amend the compulsory questioning framework in the ASIO Act by:
The Bill will support the new framework by retaining existing provisions in relation to the exercise of a questioning warrant, including:
Schedule 1 reforms ASIO’s compulsory questioning framework, by amending the following:
The reforms will ensure the framework is "fit for purpose, operationally effective and responsive to some of the most serious security threats facing Australia, namely, espionage, foreign interference and politically motivated violence".
Schedule 2 makes amendments to the surveillance device framework in the ASIO Act to improve ASIO’s ability to monitor potential security threats and to bring ASIO’s ability to use surveillance devices in line with those of its law enforcement partners.
Commenting on the Bill in his speech, the Minister said:
The Guardian has reported that under the proposed laws, ASIO would be allowed to question children as young as 14 and have easier access to tracking devices. If passed the Bill would also extend the power of ASIO to question people over “foreign interference” and the Attorney General would be able to issue certain warrants orally in emergency situations.
Reacting to the proposed changes, Greg Barns of the Sydney Morning Herald (“SMH”) said:
Pauline Wright, President of the Law Council of Australia said in a media release:
Ms Wright also said “… the Law Council is concerned that the government is now rushing the Bill, despite having had over two years to develop the re-designed questioning legislation since the PJCIS tabled its report in May 2018.”
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Australian Security Intelligence Organisation Amendment Bill 2020 [CTH] - Bill and supporting information available from TimeBase LawOne Service
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