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ASIO legislation passed.



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NEWS RELEASE

 

ATTORNEY-GENERAL

THE HON DARYL WILLIAMS AM QC MP

 

26 November 1999

666

 

ASIO LEGISLATION PASSED

 

The Australian Security Intelligence Organisation will be better equipped to meet the challenges new technology poses to national security afte r Parliament passed legislation last night.

 

The rapidly changing information environment has placed increasing demands on ASIO’s intelligence gathering activities.

 

The Australian Security Intelligence Organisation Amendment Bill 1999 will enable ASIO to keep abreast of the rapidly changing information environment by allowing agents to gain remote access to material stored on computer.

 

ASJO will also be empowered, under strict controls, to seek access to records of financial transactions held by the Australian Transactions Reports and Analysis Centre (AUSTRAC).

 

The Commissioner of Taxation will also be permitted to disclose tax information to ASIO where the Commissioner is satisfied that the information is relevant to ASIO’s functions. These powers will enable ASIO, like law enforcement agencies, to follow the money trail of activities harmful to national security.

 

The ASIO Bill amends the Australian Security Intelligence Organization Act 1979, the Taxation Administration Act 1953, the Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security Act 1986 and the Financial Transaction Reports Act 1988.

 

These amendments do not change the substance of the functions given to ASIO by Parliament nor do they give ASIO new powers. Rather, the Bill effects a modernisation of current powers.

 

The Bill makes some minor changes to the ASIO Act to ensure that ASIO will be able to carry out its security assessment function more efficiently for the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games. These Olympics-related amendments will expire on 31 December

2000.

 

ASIO’s conduct will continue to be subject to the existing strict accountability measures under which the Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security may inspect ASIO records as he sees fit and report to the Attorney-General.

 

Media contact: Catherine Fitzpatrick (02) 6277 7300, 0419 423 965

 

 

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