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Monday, 27 August 2001
Page: 26714


Senator ELLISON (Minister for Justice and Customs) (8:05 PM) —by leave—I move government amendments (9) and (10):

(9) Schedule 2, item 1, page 34 (after line 7), after subsection (1), insert:

(1A) An audit of these records must not be conducted by:

(a) an authorising person who has issued, varied or revoked an authorisation to which one or more of the records relate; or

(b) an approved officer or approved person who is covered by an authorisation to which one or more of the records relate.

(10) Schedule 2, item 1, page 34 (after line 12), after section 15XU, insert:

15XUA Matters to be reported

Commonwealth participating agencies must report annually

(1) Each of the following Commonwealth participating agencies:

(a) the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation;

(b) the Australian Secret Intelligence Service;

must, as soon as practicable after 30 June in each year, prepare and give to the Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security a report for the year ending on that 30 June.

(2) Each other Commonwealth participating agency must, within 3 months after 30 June in each year, prepare and give to the Minister responsible for the agency a report for the year ending on that 30 June.

(3) The Minister receiving a report under subsection (2) must table a copy of the report before each House of the Parliament within 15 sitting days of that House after the day on which the Minister receives the report.

What reports must include

(4) An agency's report must include the following information:

(a) the number of authorisations issued by an authorising person from the agency during the year covered by the report;

(b) a general description of the activities undertaken by approved officers and approved persons when using their assumed identities during the year covered by the report;

(c) a statement whether or not any fraud or other unlawful activity was identified by an audit under paragraph 15XU(1)(b) during the year covered by the report.

(5) However, information must not be included in the report if the head of the agency is of the view that it is likely that its inclusion may:

(a) endanger a person's safety; or

(b) prejudice an investigation or prosecution; or

(c) compromise the agency's operational activities or methodologies.

These amendments relate to assumed identities. The government's amendments will ensure that audits of assumed identities are conducted by persons independent from those authorising or using assumed identities. This of course guards against any conflict of interest. The amendments would also require Commonwealth agencies authorising the use of assumed identities to prepare an annual report on their use. ASIO and ASIS would be required to report to the Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security, with other agencies to report to the parliament. These reports would include the number of assumed identity authorisations used during the year, a general description of the activities undertaken using those identities and a statement as to whether the audit of those identities revealed any fraud or unlawful activity. I understand that there is a variation proposed to these amendments by the opposition which I can foreshadow that the government will support, but in the meanwhile I commend the government's amendments to the Senate.