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Monday, 25 February 2013
Page: 780


Senator FAULKNER (New South Wales) (20:18): On behalf of the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security, I present the report of the committee Annual report of committee activities 2011-12. I seek leave of the Senate to move a motion in relation to the report.

Leave granted.

Senator FAULKNER: I move:

That the Senate take note of the report.

As I mentioned, on behalf of the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security, it is my task to present the committee's report entitled Annual report of committee activities 2011-2012.

Senators would be aware, of course, that reviewing administration and expenditure on an annual basis is one of the primary functions of the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security. Section 29 of the Intelligence Services Act stipulates that the committee has an obligation to review the administration and expenditure including the annual financial statements of the Australian intelligence community.

On 18 June last year the committee tabled its Review of administration and expenditure: No. 9, 2009-2010.

This review examined a wide range of aspects of the administration and expenditure of the six intelligence and security agencies, including the financial statements for each agency, their human resource management, training, recruitment and accommodation. In addition the review looked at issues of interoperability between members of the Australian intelligence community.

Submissions were sought from each of the six intelligence and security agencies, from the Australian National Audit Office (ANAO) and from the Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security (IGIS).

The committee received five submissions from members of the public or from public organisations, including from:

the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre,

Brigidine Asylum Seekers Project,

RISE, and

the Refugee Council of Australia.

These submissions all dealt with ASIO security assessments of refugees.

On 25 March 2011 the committee held a private hearing at which ASIO, ASIS, DSD, DIGO, ONA and DIO appeared before the committee. On 16 June 2011 the committee held a public hearing—its first since July 2006—and heard from representatives of the Refugee Council of Australia, RISE (Refugees, Survivors and Ex-Detainees), the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre and ASIO in relation to visa security assessments.

The committee took very seriously the concerns put before it by various refugee and asylum seeker advocacy groups but it also recognised that the job ASIO has is a very difficult one. Therefore, the committee welcomed the efforts, introduced by ASIO on 1 March 2011, to streamline the process of security assessments in an attempt to clear the backlog and to process future assessments in less time. The committee was satisfied that the current regime for visa security assessments is the correct one and noted that the IGIS has stated that ASIO is doing its job in a 'proper and legal manner'.

Overall, the committee was satisfied that the administration and expenditure of the six intelligence and security agencies is sound.

Two reports on the listing of organisations as terrorist organisations were tabled in the period under review. The two reports dealt with eleven organisations, comprising 10 re-listings and one initial listing.

The reports were:

•   Review of the listing of Al-Qa'ida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) and the re-listing of 6 terrorist organisations; and

•    Review of the re-listing of Ansar al-Islam (AAI), Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU), Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) and Lashkar-e Jhangvi (LeJ) as terrorist organisations

The committee did not recommend disallowance of any of the regulations in relation to the eleven organisations. Of course, the committee as always, thanks those who contributed to its work during the year and I commend this report to the Senate.