Australian Security Intelligence Organisation Amendment Bill 2020
The submission to the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security (Committee) review of the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation Bill 2020 (Bill) was prepared by the Law Council.
The Bill contains two significant expansions of the intelligence collection powers of the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO) under the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation Act 1979 (Cth) (ASIO Act). They propose to:
- extend ASIO’s compulsory questioning powers for a further 10 years, subject to substantial amendments, including expanding the scope of questioning and lowering the minimum age of questioning to 14 years (Schedule 1 to the Bill); and
- enable ASIO to use tracking devices under internal authorisations given by its own officials, rather than a warrant issued by the Attorney-General, in circumstances that would considerably exceed ASIO’s present warrantless surveillance powers, which generally require the consent of the other person to the use of a tracking device (Schedule 2 to the Bill). 1
The Law Council acknowledges the important role of ASIO in keeping Australia and Australians safe from national security threats, and the need for its powers to be adequate to support this function. However, such powers should not exceed what is necessary and proportionate to respond to identified security threats.
Accordingly, the Law Council welcomes the proposal not to renew ASIO’s existing powers to detain a person for up to seven days to conduct compulsory questioning (questioning-and-detention warrants), which is consistent with the Law Council’s longstanding position on the power of detention for intelligence collection purposes.
You can read the full submission below.
1 ASIO Act, s 26E (warrantless use of tracking devices).