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Thursday, 28 June 2018
Page: 4411

Senator SESELJA (Australian Capital TerritoryAssistant Minister for Science, Jobs and Innovation) (18:41): Just briefly, the government doesn't support the amendments moved by Senator Patrick for two reasons. First, this is not the appropriate vehicle nor the appropriate process by which to progress these amendments. The measures in the espionage and foreign interference bill focus on strengthening existing offences for espionage, treason, sabotage and secrecy; creating new foreign interference offences; and ensuring law enforcement agencies have access to appropriate powers to investigate these serious offences. While some measures in the bill relate to oversight, this bill is not the appropriate place to address integrity and oversight arrangements relating to national security generally.

More broadly, the amendments proposed by Senator Patrick would fundamentally reshape the role of the PJCIS and its relationship with the intelligence services by extending its remit to include the ability to inquire into the operational activities and decisions made by the intelligence services. Amendments of this gravity should be the subject of careful consideration by the parliament, the public and the intelligence community. It would not be appropriate for these amendments to be introduced through an unrelated bill. For these reasons, the government won't be supporting the amendments.