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Thursday, 30 September 2010
Page: 277


Mr McCLELLAND (Attorney-General) (10:06 AM) —I move:

That this bill be now read a second time.

The Telecommunications Interception and Intelligence Services Legislation Amendment Bill 2010 reintroduces measures contained in the bill that I introduced into the House on 24 June 2010 which lapsed when parliament was prorogued, and I would refer honourable members to my comments in the second reading speech introducing that bill.

The bill amends three acts to facilitate greater cooperation between law enforcement and intelligence agencies and removes legislative barriers to information sharing within Australia’s national security community.

Interception assistance

Currently, under the Telecommunications (Interception and Access) Act, law enforcement agencies can seek the assistance of other law enforcement agencies in exercising an interception warrant.

This ability has enabled smaller agencies with limited interception capability to rely on larger agencies to intercept on their behalf.

However, the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation does not fall within the group of agencies from whom such assistance can be sought.

The bill will amend the Telecommunications (Interception and Access) Act to enable ASIO to intercept on behalf of other agencies and to ensure that ASIO has greater flexibility to support whole-of-government efforts to protect our communities.

In assisting law enforcement agencies, ASIO will continue to be subject to the existing legislative requirements set out in the interception act and also the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation Act 1979.

Other assistance

The bill also contains amendments to the ASIO Act and the Intelligence Services Act 2001 to enable the intelligence agencies to cooperate more closely and to provide assistance to one another in a wider range of circumstances than is possible under the existing legislative framework.

This will facilitate greater interoperability in multi-agency teams and enable agencies to harness resources in support of key national security priorities.

Amendments are also included to enhance information and intelligence sharing among Australia’s national security community.

The amendments set out in the bill retain the important accountability frameworks within which the agencies are required to operate.

Other amendments

The bill also makes several amendments to the Telecommunications (Interception and Access) Act that will improve the operation of that act.

Carriers and carrier service providers will be required to inform the communications access coordinator of proposed changes, such as maintenance and support, that could significantly affect their ability to comply with their statutory obligation to assist interception agencies.

Early notification of such changes will avoid the need for costly alterations once a change has been implemented.

Amendments are also contained in the bill that will support police forces to find missing persons and to solve crimes where the victim cannot be found or cannot consent to their communications being accessed.

Constraints on the disclosure of this information are also included in the bill as there are circumstances in which missing persons may not want their location revealed.

The operation of the act will also be improved by allowing a carrier or service provider representative who has been authorised by the managing director to receive notice of the issue of an interception warrant.

Finally, the bill makes several minor and technical changes to address formatting and typographical errors and to better reflect plain English drafting conventions.

Conclusion

Ensuring our national security and law enforcement agencies have the ability to respond to threats to our national security is a key priority for this government.

By shaping and supporting a national security community we will strengthen the capacity of all agencies to protect our communities from criminal and other activities threatening our national and personal wellbeing, and I commend the bill to the House.

Debate (on motion by Mr Turnbull) adjourned.