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Wednesday, 5 June 2013
Page: 5367

National Security

Ms JULIE BISHOP (CurtinDeputy Leader of the Opposition) (14:43): My question is to the Attorney-General. Since taking up this post, has the Attorney-General been advised by the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation that a convicted jihadist terrorist was being held in low-security family accommodation in the Adelaide Hills? If so, when was he advised and what action has he taken as a result?

Mr DREYFUS (IsaacsAttorney-General, Minister for Emergency Management, Minister for the Public Service and Integrity and Special Minister of State) (14:43): What a disgrace this opposition is. They are a disgrace because they seek to make a political plaything out of national security. We know that they are seeking to make a plaything out of national security because of this question.

Mr Pyne: Speaker, on a point of order: in spite of the ham overacting, the minister was asked a very serious question about what action he took about national security. He has to answer the question and you should make him do so.

The SPEAKER: Order! Everyone will sit down. The Attorney-General has the call and will be relevant to the question.

Mr DREYFUS: Thank you, Speaker. I was briefed by the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation on 24 April this year in relation to this matter. I say again that the ongoing attack on our national security agencies by this opposition is outrageous. It is further indication that the only interest that this opposition has in national security is to use it as a political football.

And rather than second-guessing our security agencies, rather than attacking our security agencies, which is what they are seeking to do, rather than second-guessing the briefings that they receive on our national security activities, they should explain how their cuts to the bone and their cuts to national security would affect the national security of our country.

The SPEAKER: The Attorney-General will return to the question.

Mr DREYFUS: The recent review of the administration and expenditure of our security agencies and our intelligence agencies, tabled just last Monday by the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security, found that when it comes to visa security and to security checking the joint parliamentary committee was:

satisfied that the current regime for visa security assessments is the correct one.

The fact is that this government has increased the resources that ASIO has to meet an increasing caseload. ASIO is managing those resources in an effective and efficient manner and it does this by determining, through a triage process, which cases should undergo a full security assessment. I want to quote someone else. This is what the Director-General of ASIO said at the recent Senate estimates hearing:

In the circumstances—

this is the Director-General of ASIO—

I would submit that the triaging process is the most effective and efficient way of enabling the greatest resources to be applied to the greatest potential risk.

He went on to say:

With a properly managed risk management system you can reduce the risk very considerably by focusing on real problems.

If the opposition is saying that it knows how to manage national security assessments better than ASIO, then it should say how it would do it differently and what it would cost. It is very clear I cannot and will not comment on individual cases, but I would say it is important to note that the individual in question has been in detention at all times since he arrived in Australia. (Time expired)

Ms JULIE BISHOP (CurtinDeputy Leader of the Opposition) (14:47): Madam Speaker, I ask a supplementary question. After being advised of the security breach on 24 April, what action did the Attorney-General take? Specifically, did the Attorney-General raise this with the National Security Committee of cabinet? If not, why not?

Mr Robb interjecting

The SPEAKER: The member for Goldstein might be pained in a moment.

Mr Albanese: The Deputy Leader of the Opposition should know full well that it is out of order to ask a question about the National Security Committee of the cabinet and what occurs in the cabinet. If people seriously are suggesting that the National Security Committee cabinet meetings should be open to all, then it says everything about what they think about security.

Mr DREYFUS (IsaacsAttorney-General, Minister for Emergency Management, Minister for the Public Service and Integrity and Special Minister of State) (14:48): I will not.

Mr Albanese: Deputy Speaker—

Opposition members interjecting

The SPEAKER: Order! Nobody has the right to go on about what they call me in this place, for goodness sake, because everybody gets it wrong every day of the week. The Leader of the House has the call.

Mr Albanese: Speaker, I usually do get it right.

The SPEAKER: You do.

Mr Albanese: But one thing I have got right is that the question invites the Attorney-General to break the law.

Opposition members: Rubbish!

Mr Albanese: It does!

The SPEAKER: The issue I have is that it is not outside the standing orders. The Attorney-General has the right to explain that in his answer. The Attorney-General has the call.

Mr Hawke: He won't be Attorney-General for much longer.

The SPEAKER: And the member for Mitchell might not make it to the end of question time again!

Mr DREYFUS: I will not be saying in this chamber what is discussed in the National Security Committee of cabinet. If we had wanted a better example of the way in which this opposition is trying to make a political plaything out of our national security, we have just had it in this question from the Deputy Leader of the Opposition. It continues to play politics with national security. It does not have a plan for national security, other than to cut to the bone and to cut services—

Mr Pyne: Madam Speaker, on a point of order: he was asked what action he took after 24 April. He was asked what action he took after 24 April, and that is the question we want an answer to.

The SPEAKER: The Manager of Opposition Business will resume his seat. The Attorney-General has completed his answer.