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Thursday, 12 December 2002
Page: 7859


Senator ELLISON (Minister for Justice and Customs) (12:00 PM) —I move government amendment (28) on sheet DT377:

(28) Schedule 1, item 27A, page 35 (lines 21 to 33), omit subsection (1A), substitute:

(1A) The report must include a statement of:

(a) the total number of requests made under section 34C to issuing authorities during the year for the issue of warrants under section 34D; and

(b) the total number of warrants issued during the year under section 34D; and

(c) the total number of warrants issued during the year that meet the requirement in paragraph 34D(2)(a) (about requiring a person to appear before a prescribed authority); and

(d) the number of hours each person appeared before a prescribed authority for questioning under a warrant issued during the year that meets the requirement in paragraph 34D(2)(a) and the total of all those hours for all those persons; and

(e) the total number of warrants issued during the year that meet the requirement in paragraph 34D(2)(b) (about authorising a person to be taken into custody, brought before a prescribed authority and detained); and

(f) the following numbers:

(i) the number of hours each person appeared before a prescribed authority for questioning under a warrant issued during the year that meets the requirement in paragraph 34D(2)(b);

(ii) the number of hours each person spent in detention under such a warrant;

(iii) the total of all those hours for all those persons; and

(g) the number of times each prescribed authority had persons appear for questioning before him or her under warrants issued during the year.

(1B) A statement included under subsection (1A) in a report must not name, or otherwise specifically identify, any person to whom information provided in the report relates.

Note: Subsection (4) lets the Minister delete information described in subsection (1A) from the copy of the report laid before each House of the Parliament under subsection (3), if the Minister considers it necessary to avoid prejudice to security, the defence of the Commonwealth, the conduct of the Commonwealth's international affairs or the privacy of individuals.

Government amendment (28) implements recommendation 25 of the references committee's report. The bill already requires ASIO to include specified information in its unclassified annual report. These amendments add to the information that is to be included, following the recommendation of the Senate committee. Recommendation 25 states:

The Committee recommends that proposed subsection 94(1A) should be amended to require the report to include information about the total number of hours of questioning under warrants, the hours of questioning and length of detention in respect of each person questioned, and number of warrants for questioning heard before each Prescribed Authority.

This amendment makes it clear that the information provided must not identify the persons involved. This, of course, is to protect the privacy of the subjects of the warrants and prescribed authorities. This amendment also clarifies that, in accordance with the existing provisions of the ASIO Act, the minister may delete information from the copy of the report tabled in parliament, if it is necessary in order to avoid prejudice to security, the defence of the Commonwealth, the conduct of the Commonwealth's internal affairs or privacy of individuals. I note that, in addition to the Attorney-General and other members of the National Security Committee, the Leader of the Opposition, the Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security and the Parliamentary Joint Committee on ASIO, ASIS and DSD are briefed on the contents of ASIO's classified annual report before any material is removed prior to publication of the unclassified version. I commend this amendment to the chamber.