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Thursday, 23 June 2011
Page: 3685

Senator TROOD (Queensland) (12:48): As a member of the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security, I would like to take a moment to associate myself with the remarks of Senator Faulkner with regard to this report, Annual report of committee activities 2009-10. I thank Senator Faulkner for his remarks about my own membership of the committee.

I make three brief points with regard to the report. Firstly, I acknowledge the significant contribution that the former chair of the committee, Mr Arch Bevis, made. He was indeed a very diligent and conscientious chair, but he was defeated at the last election. Most of the time I spent on that committee was under his chairmanship. He led it with distinction and I associate myself with Senator Faulkner's remarks about his leadership of the committee.

Secondly, the Office of the Inspector General of Intelligence and Security is a statutory office, which I have watched for some time now. In particular, I have explored with the Inspector-General in a succession of Senate estimates meetings the situation of its budget. It is manifestly obvious that the budget is inadequate for the increasing duties that are being imposed upon the Inspector-General. Almost at every turn it seems the government assumes that the Inspector-General is, firstly, the appropĀ­riate office to undertake various inquiries and, further, that the inquiries to be undertaken and the responsibilities devolved to the Inspector-General are responsibilities that the Inspector-General can undertake without any significant increase in resources. We have reached a point where that cannot continue. It seems to me that the resources of Inspector-General need serious reconsidĀ­eration. The Inspector-General, who is the most diligent of people and whose office is the most diligent of offices, is under considerable constraint with resources and its budget needs to be reviewed.

Thirdly, having sat on the committee for some years and since its activities do take place in a very confidential fashion, I underscore what I regard as the great value of the committee to the parliament. Its activities are, of course, confidential. The witnesses that come before the committee do so in camera. In some quarters, that raises suspicions about the activities of the committee. I think it is an appropriate time, when we are looking at the annual report of the committee, to underscore the fact that the work of the committee is undertaken in the most conscientious way. The committee does explore in great detail the administration of these various agencies, which are very important to the national security of the country, and they do it very effectively. Since I am a member of the committee and we are looking at the annual report, it seems an appropriate occasion to underscore what a valuable exercise this is and how diligently and conscientiously all members of the committee undertake their work.