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Monday, 22 September 2014
Page: 9894


Mr TEHAN (Wannon) (10:08): On behalf of the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security, I present two reports of the committee: Review of administration and expenditure: No. 11 and No. 12—Australian intelligence agencies, and Review of the listing of Boko Haram;Review of the re-listing of the Islamic State.

Reports made parliamentary papers in accordance with standing order 39(e)

Mr TEHAN: The committee is required by the Intelligence Services Act to review the administration and expenditure of the agencies of the Australian intelligence community, and this report covers the financial years 2011-12 and 2012-13.

The committee received comprehensive submissions for both years and conducted private hearings with each of the agencies, the Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security and the Australian National Audit Office. I am pleased to report that the committee was satisfied that agencies are currently overseeing their administration and expenditure effectively.

For a number of years now, the committee has monitored the impact of the efficiency dividend and other savings measures on agencies. In this review, the committee sought assurances that each agency continued to have the necessary resources to address and target Australia's national security priorities to the degree necessary to protect Australians against threats to national security.

Madam Speaker, the committee found that the ongoing impact of the efficiency dividend and other savings measures were placing increasing pressure on the AIC agencies. Since 2010, agencies have warned of the potential impact on operational capability. This was reiterated even more strongly in this review with the clear message that any further cuts will lead to capability reductions. For this reason, the committee has recommended that the government review the continued application of the efficiency dividend and other savings measures to the agencies comprising the Australian intelligence community. The committee considers particular consideration should be given to the cumulative impact of these measures on operational capacity, including optimal staffing levels, and the ongoing ability of agencies to protect Australia's national security.

Turning to the second report, the committee has reviewed the making of regulations to list Boko Haram and relist the Islamic State as terrorist organisations under the Criminal Code. For Boko Haram, this is the first time the group has been listed by the Australian government. The group has launched attacks of increasing violence and sophistication since 2009. In the period from 2011 and 2014, 29 terrorist attacks were claimed by or reliably attributed to Boko Haram. In addition to assassinations of political, military and religious figures, the group has increasingly targeted non-combatants, including attacks on schools, markets, churches, residential areas and bus interchanges, which have killed hundreds of civilians. The group has also turned to kidnapping, including the April 2014 kidnapping of more than 200 girls from a secondary school in Borno State. Listed as a terrorist organisation by the United Nations and other governments, the group is not engaged in any meaningful peace negotiations

Madam Speaker, as I reported in my oral statement to the House on 4 September, the committee fully supports the listing of Boko Haram as a terrorist organisation under the Criminal Code.

I now turn to IS. Known also as ISIL and ISIS, the Islamic State was relisted as a terrorist organisation by the government on 11 July 2014. In a statement on 29 June 2014, the group had announced:

Accordingly, the "Iraq and Sham" in the name of the Islamic State is henceforth removed from all official deliberations and communications, and the official name is the Islamic State from the date of this declaration.

The committee was informed that the listing reflects the expansion of the group's operating area and its announcement of an Islamic caliphate, but that the leadership, membership and methods of the group have not changed.

Described to the committee as 'one of the world's deadliest and most active terrorist organisations', the Islamic State conducts daily attacks on security forces and civilians. In Iraq, the group aims to destroy public confidence and provoke widespread revolt against the government, as well as undermining efforts to contain the group. In Syria, its targets include the regime of Bashar al-Assad, some armed opposition groups, and Turkish and Kurdish militants.

The committee fully supports the relisting on the basis that the group continues to engage in and advocate terrorist attacks. The committee also maintains the view expressed in an earlier report that the strong links to Australia are a significant additional factor in the proscription of this group. We have heard that there are about 60 Australians fighting in Syria and Iraq, with about another 100 people in Australia believed to be providing active support. The committee therefore does not recommend disallowance of the regulation listing the Islamic State as a terrorist organisation under the Criminal Code.

Could I take this opportunity to thank all members of the committee for their participation in these two inquiries. I would also like to place on the record the support of the committee secretariat in helping to put these reports together. I commend the reports to the House.