The Morrison Government has today introduced the National Security Legislation Amendment (Comprehensive Review and Other Measures No. 1) Bill 2021, to address critical operational challenges facing intelligence agencies in the modern era, as part of the Government’s response to the Comprehensive Review of the Legal Framework of the National Intelligence Community.
Minister for Home Affairs Karen Andrews said Australia faced an increasingly uncertain future, with rapid advances in technology, changing geo-political norms, and disruption associated with the pandemic all combining to potentially undermine Australia’s long-term safety, security, and economic recovery.
“Australia’s national security laws must keep pace, to ensure our intelligence and security agencies have the powers and agility they need to keep Australians safe in an increasingly complex and interconnected world,” Minister Andrews said.
“Australians can trust the Morrison Government to back our intelligence agencies with robust legislation that supports the values and principles that underpin our way of life.
“Once passed by the Parliament, the measures introduced today will allow Australia’s intelligence agencies to respond quickly to help save Australian lives in emergency situations overseas; identify and respond to terrorist threats more quickly; and strengthen co-operation between agencies.
“The Bill also ensures that agencies remain subject to robust oversight and accountability mechanisms, including Ministerial oversight and requirements for reporting to the Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security, at all times.
“The Bill strikes the right balance between protecting individual rights and freedoms, and protecting the community from emerging threats to our security.”
Key elements of the National Security Legislation Amendment Bill include:
- a clearer Ministerial authorisation framework for intelligence agencies, including new emergency authorisation provisions to assist Australians at imminent risk overseas, for example in the event an Australian is kidnapped or held hostage;
- allowing more time to gather information related to the suspension of Australian travel documents;
- authorisation for agencies to produce intelligence on Australians who are, or are likely to be, involved with listed terrorist organisations;
- strengthened arrangements for Australian intelligence agencies to cooperate with each other, and with other organisations;
- improved transparency of agencies’ privacy protections for Australians, by clarifying the scope of agencies’ privacy rules, creating a legislative requirement that privacy rules be publicly available and allowing the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security to review those rules.
Additional reforms arising from the Comprehensive Review will follow in subsequent bills.