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Tuesday, 13 June 2006
Page: 155


Senator FAULKNER (10:03 PM) —What is at issue here is the fact that, under the government’s proposal, this legislation will be reviewed by 22 January 2016. The provisions in division 3 of the ASIO Act will also, of course, cease operation in 2016—in fact, by 22 July 2016. There will be no effective scrutiny of these ASIO powers before that time. There will be no effective review of these ASIO powers before 2016. There will be no accountability in relation to these ASIO powers before 2016. And there will be no public transparency in relation to the use of these powers before 2016.

The question that the minister at the table is unable to answer, the question that Mr Ruddock as the responsible minister is unable to answer, is: what is the justification for a 10-year sunset clause? In fact, why have a sunset clause at all? I remind the committee that the PJC itself said in relation to these powers:

… the powers … should not be seen as a permanent part of the Australian legal landscape.

The truth is that, without review, without accountability, without transparency and without scrutiny, that is precisely what will happen.

Some of these powers, particularly the power to detain, have not actually been subject to any review at all because they had not been used at the time of the PJC review in 2005. They had not been used. So we will go from 2005 to 2016 without any examination or review of these powers. Can anyone seriously say to this committee or to the Australian community that that is a satisfactory situation? Of course it is not. It is a Clayton’s sunset clause. It is the sunset clause you have when you do not have a sunset clause at all. It is absolutely indefensible, and the amendments that Senator Ludwig has moved on behalf of the opposition ought to be agreed to by this committee. They are moderate and they are responsible. They are a minimum in the circumstances, for a minimum amount of scrutiny of the operations of these very serious, very extensive new powers that ASIO has.