National Security Legislation Amendment Bill (No 1) 2014
A new national security bill governing the operations of Australia’s intelligence agencies was unveiled last week.
Attorney-General George Brandis has responded to growing concerns about radicalised and militarised extremists returning to Australia from the Middle East by introducing the National Security Legislation Amendment Bill (No 1) 2014 (the Bill) into the Senate to deal with continuing threats of politically-motivated violence in Australia and strengthen the powers of the domestic spy agency ASIO.
New targeted reforms
The Bill contains a package of targeted reforms that aim to modernise and improve the legislative framework that governs the activities of the Australian Intelligence Community (AIC), primarily the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation Act 1979 and the Intelligence Services Act 2001.
The Bill implements the recommendations outlined in Chapter 4 of the bipartisan report of the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security (PJCIS) to ensure the AIC keeps pace with the contemporary and evolving security environment. This security environment includes:
- The threat of “home grown” terrorism – the threat posed by returning foreign fighters is the most significant risk to Australia’s domestic security;
- The increased use of technology by terrorist organisations to evade detection;
- The threat of espionage by “trusted insiders” who have gained legitimate access to intelligence-related information without authorisation.
Objectives of the Bill
Against this contemporary security background, the Bill primarily aims to:
- Modernise ASIO’s warrant based intelligence collection powers through computer access warrants, surveillance devices and approval of warrants;
- Improve information sharing between intelligence agencies;
- Strengthen ASIO’s ability to conduct covert intelligence operations.
The Bill is the first tranche of this Government’s reforms to update and strengthen the powers of Australia’s intelligence and law enforcement agencies.
The Bill has currently been referred to the PJCIS for inquiry and report by 8 September 2014.
To view the Bill and Explanatory Memorandum, go to the Parliamentary website.
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