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Thursday, 25 September 2014
Page: 7254


Senator LEYONHJELM (New South Wales) (20:51): by leave—I move amendments (8) and (9) on sheet 7579:

(8) Schedule 5, items 9 and 10, page 74 (lines 4 to 19), to be opposed.

(9) Schedule 5, item 14, page 79 (lines 1 and 2), omit subparagraph 1(1A)(a)(i).

I will speak to amendments (8) and (9) together. Perhaps you can put them separately. What I am seeking here is to remove a provision in the bill to allow ASIS, the Australian Security Intelligence Service, our foreign intelligence service, to cooperate with foreign authorities in undertaking training in the use of weapons. Item 9 removes the authorisation of ASIS to provide weapons and weapons training for self-defence purposes to an officer of a foreign authority with whom ASIS is cooperating. ASIS is not a military organisation, and there is no definition of 'foreign authorities' provided in the bill. This is significant. It seems to be is a significant expansion and change in the nature of ASIS activities which will allow them to arm and train foreign authorities. ASIS itself is actually prohibited from using weapons in its activities, but here it is taking on responsibility for training others in the use of weapons and training. The closest analogy that comes to mind in respect of this scenario is that ASIS would take on some of the sorts of activities for which the CIA is notorious; that is, funding, providing weapons to and training organisations and bodies that it wishes to support. It is a very murky activity. I would like to think that our government and our agencies do not get involved in that sort of thing. The best example that I can think of in recent history was the CIA's arming and training of the Taliban during the period of the Russian occupation in Afghanistan. That was a very dodgy activity and I would like to think that our ASIS is not going to engage in anything similar.

The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN ( Senator Bernardi ): For the benefit of the committee, Senator Leyonhjelm spoke to amendments (8) and (9). The questions will be put separately. Any subsequent remarks can address both of the amendments.