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Thursday, 15 February 2018
Page: 12


Mr McCORMACK (RiverinaMinister for Veterans' Affairs, Minister for Defence Personnel, Deputy Leader of the House and Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for the Centenary of ANZAC) (10:37): I move:

That this bill be now read a second time.

There is no greater responsibility for any government than to ensure the safety and security of its people.

Last year the Australian government announced the most significant reform to Australia's intelligence and security landscape in decades by establishing a new Home Affairs portfolio, creating an Office of National Intelligence (subsuming the existing Office of National Assessments), and transforming the Australian Signals Directorate into a statutory agency.

The Intelligence Services Amendment (Establishment of the Australian Signals Directorate) Bill 2018 implements the recommendations of the 2017 Independent Intelligence Review and fulfils the government's commitment to establish the Australian Signals Directorate as an independent statutory agency within the Defence portfolio reporting directly to the Minister for Defence.

On 7 November 2016, the Prime Minister announced an independent review of the Australian intelligence community.

The timing of the review is consistent with the 2011 Independent Review of the Intelligence Community recommendation that periodic review occur every five years.

On 18 July 2017, the Prime Minister released the unclassified version of the 2017 Independent Intelligence Review report.

The review made 23 recommendations in relation to the structural, legislation and oversight architecture of the intelligence community, including the establishment of the Australian Signals Directorate as an independent statutory agency within the Defence portfolio.

The Australian Signals Directorate has a long history which goes back to the Second World War, when Australian Navy, Army and Air Force personnel were brought together to support General MacArthur's south-west Pacific campaign by intercepting and decoding enemy radio signals.

After the war, as the wartime signals intelligence units were wound down, government approval for a new peacetime signals intelligence organisation was given on 23 July 1946.

The new Defence Signals Bureau opened at Albert Park Barracks, in Melbourne, on 12 November 1947. Its role was to exploit foreign communications and be responsible for communications security in the armed services and government departments.

The bureau was renamed the Defence Signals Branch in October 1949, a title it retained until January 1964, when it became the Defence Signals Division.

As a result of an inquiry in 1977 into intelligence and security, the Defence Signals Division was renamed the Defence Signals Directorate and made directly responsible to the Secretary of the Department of Defence.

In June 1988, the government decided that the Defence Signals Directorate should move to Defence headquarters at Russell Offices in Canberra, to facilitate a closer relationship with Defence, other intelligence agencies and key government departments.

Recent years have seen a dramatic expansion of the information security role the signals directorate plays as a result of the explosive growth of the internet and moves to online service delivery by Australian governments.

In January 2010, the Defence Signals Directorate established the Cyber Security Operations Centre to develop a comprehensive understanding of ICT security threats to critical Australian systems and coordinate a response to those threats across government and industry.

In May 2013, the Defence Signals Directorate was renamed the Australian Signals Directorate to reflect its whole-of-government role in support of Australia's national security.

In November 2014, the Cyber Security Operations Centre evolved into the Australian Cyber Security Centre, or the ACSC, which is the next evolution of Australia's cybersecurity capability.

The ACSC sees the co-location of all contributing agencies' cybersecurity capabilities, including the Australian Signals Directorate's cybersecurity mission, the centre of emergency response team from the Attorney-General's Department, representatives of the Australian Federal Police, the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission, ASIO, and the Defence Intelligence Organisation.

The ACSC is currently the joint responsibility of the Attorney-General and the Minister for Defence.

It is clear the Australian Signals Directorate has evolved from a primarily Defence signals collection agency after World War II to become Australia's national signals intelligence authority for collecting intelligence, supporting the military and undertaking cybersecurity, and affects operations through the application of advanced technologies.

The Australian Signals Directorate is now a national asset with a national focus, playing a much broader role than defined by its previously exclusive Defence focus.

In broad terms, this bill will separate the Australian Signals Directorate from the Department of Defence and establish it as an independent statutory agency under the control of the Director-General of the Australian Signals Directorate from 1 July 2018.

In December 2017, the Prime Minister announced the appointment of Mr Mike Burgess as the Director-General designate of the Australian Signals Directorate (the ASD).

Mr Burgess is a cybersecurity consultant who was previously the Chief Information Security Officer for Telstra and prior to that, a deputy director of the Australian Signals Directorate. Mr Burgess will bring to the Australian Signals Directorate significant experience in intelligence and information and cybersecurity from both the private and public sectors, particularly as it transitions to a statutory agency within the Defence portfolio. I congratulate him on his appointment and I look forward to his ongoing contributions to our national security.

The bill will also amend the Australian Signals Directorate's functions to bring the ACSC into the Australian Signals Directorate, in accordance with recommendation 3(b) of the review.

The centre of emergency response team and its functions relating to cyberpolicy and security will also be transferred from the Attorney-General's Department to the Australian Signals Directorate.

Specifically, the bill implements the recommendations of the review by:

amending the Australian Signals Directorate's functions to include providing material, advice and other assistance to any person on matters relating to the security and the integrity of information which is processed, stored or communicated by electronic or similar means; and cybersecurity, which will allow the ACSC to liaise with industry;

amending ASD's functions to include combating cybercrime;

providing provisions for the establishment of the Australian Signals Directorate on a statutory basis, and the appointment of the Director-General of the Australian Signals Directorate to control the Australian Signals Directorate and its staff;

providing provisions that the Director-General of the Australian Signals Directorate must brief the Leader of the Opposition about matters relating to the Australian Signals Directorate;

giving the Director-General of the Australian Signals Directorate powers to employ persons as employees of the Australian Signals Directorate outside the frame of the Public Service Act 1999;

amending other legislation as appropriate to replace references to the Director of the Australian Signals Directorate with the Director-General of the Australian Signals Directorate and to remove references to the Department of Defence.

In relation to the employment of staff, the Australian Signals Directorate would operate outside of the Public Service Act framework. This will provide the Australian Signals Directorate with greater flexibility to recognise the skills of its specialised workforce. This structure will reflect the need to retain those individuals with highly sought after skills, such as those with science, technology, engineering and maths qualifications.

The Australian Signals Directorate will be required under the bill to adopt the principles of the Public Service Act in relation to employees of the Australian Signals Directorate to the extent the Director-General of the Australian Signals Directorate considers they are consistent with the effective performance of the functions of the Australian Signals Directorate.

The bill also includes an additional function for the Australian Signals Directorate to protect the specialised technologies and capabilities acquired in the performance of its other functions. The Australian Signals Directorate cannot perform its important functions without being able to protect its tools to ensure their ongoing utility and protect Australia's national interests.

The bill also includes provisions to amend the Crimes Act to include the Australian Signals Directorate in the assumed identities regime set out in part IAC of the Crimes Act. This part provides for the acquisition and use of assumed identities by law enforcement and intelligence agencies.

This allows authorised officers of law enforcement and intelligence agencies to act under false identities, enabling them to undertake obscure sensitive activities that would be undermined if they were to be connected with law enforcement or intelligence agencies and protects the true identity of individual officers.

The Australian Signals Directorate relies on the use of assumed identities to perform activities related to its functions in circumstances where the Australian Signals Directorate's operations would be compromised were the activities to be connected to the Australian Signals Directorate.

Currently, ASIS and ASIO operate assumed identities on the Australian Signals Directorate's behalf. The inclusion of the Australian Signals Directorate in the assumed identities scheme will increase transparency and accountability for the Australian Signals Directorate officers using assumed identities.

While the Director-General of the Australian Signals Directorate will be able to authorise the use of an assumed identity, the acquisition of evidence of an assumed identity will be authorised and done on the Australian Signals Directorate's behalf by either ASIO or ASIS.

The bill also makes a number of transitional provisions to ensure the good governance of the Australian Signals Directorate continues during the implementation of the new arrangements.

The establishment of the Australian Signals Directorate as a statutory authority puts the agency on a similar footing to ASIS and ASIO as a national security and intelligence asset.

Given the Australian Signals Directorate's increased national responsibilities in relation to cybersecurity and the critical operational support it provides to the Australian Defence Force, the Australian Signals Directorate will now have the appropriate statutory functions to ensure it is well placed to support Australian Defence Force operations and its national responsibility for combating cybercrime, including the provision of advice to the private sector into the future.

There is no greater responsibility for any government and parliament than to ensure the safety and security of all Australians—and this bill will help make the Australian Signals Directorate a major part in delivering this responsibility into the future. I commend the bill.

Debate adjourned.