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Monday, 20 June 2011
Page: 6499


Mr BYRNE (Holt) (20:00): On behalf of the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security I have pleasure in presenting the committee's report entitled Annual report of committee activities 2009-10.The tabling of this report has been delayed because of the federal election. It is a report of the activities of the committee of the 42nd Parliament. The activities dealt with in the report were carried out under the previous chair and member for Brisbane, the Hon. Arch Bevis. I would like to take this opportunity to thank Mr Bevis for his work on the committee. His contributions to this important area of national security will be missed.

Reviewing administration and expenditure on an annual basis is one of the primary functions of the committee. 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. During this period the committee tabled their reviews of administration and expenditure Nos 6, 7 and 8 for the financial years 2006-07, 2007-08 and 2008-09. These reports were tabled in September 2009, May 2010 and June 2010 respectively.

The Review of Administration and Expenditure No. 8 (2008 - 2009) - Australian Intelligence Agencies made recom­mendations relating to the efficiency dividend and the funding of the Office of the Inspector General of Intelligence and Security, OIGIS, in particular. ONA's submission stated that, as a result of the efficiency dividend, there would be 'some modest reduction in ONA's analytical capacity'. Another agency stated that any additional reduction in their budget would significantly impact their operational activities. The committee was concerned about the impact of the efficiency dividend on the smaller agencies of the Australian intelligence community and therefore recommended that the Australian government review the potential adverse effects of the efficiency dividend on the AIC.

The committee also took the opportunity afforded by this review to look at the budget of the Office of the Inspector General of Intelligence and Security, OIGIS. The OIGIS's budget has not grown in line with ASIO's budget growth. In light of the increases in the number of personnel and activities of the Australian intelligence community as well as an expansion in the IGIS's role, the committee recommended that the budget of the Office of the Inspector General of Intelligence and Security be increased.

The Review of Administration and Expenditure No. 7 - Australian Intelligence Agencies noted the difficulties that some agencies have experienced in relation to staff recruitment. The competitive job market, growth within agencies and the desire to ensure staff are of an appropriate calibre has raised some challenges in this area. In response, agencies have sought to invest in reviewing and better developing their recruitment strategies.

Two reports on the listing of organisations as terrorist organisations were tabled in the period under review. The two reports dealt with five organisations comprising four re-listings and one initial listing. The reports were: the Review of the re-listing of Hamas' Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades (the Brigades), the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), Lashkar-e-Tayyiba (LeT), and Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) as terrorist organisations under the Criminal Code Act 1995; and, the Review of the listing of Al-Shabaab as a terrorist organisation under the Criminal Code Act 1995.

Seven public submissions were received in relation to the re-listing and the committee held a hearing on 22 October 2009. The committee did not recommend disallowance of any of the regulations in relation to the five organisations.

Since 2002 the committee has sent representatives to the biennial conference of oversight agencies. In 2010, the conference was hosted by the PJCIS and the IGIS in Sydney between Sunday, 21 March 2010 and Wednesday, 24 March 2010 and members of the committee attended. Delegates from Belgium, Canada, New Zealand, Poland, South Africa, United Kingdom and the United States attended the 2010 conference in Sydney with a number giving presentations on their oversight structures.

In conclusion, and on behalf of the committee, I would like to thank all those who have contributed to the work of the committee during the past year, in particular Mr Robert Little, the inquiry secretary, and former committee secretary Dr Margot Kerley, who has recently retired. I commend the report to the House.

Ordered that the report be made a parliamentary paper.