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Thursday, 12 May 2011
Page: 3930

Mr DANBY (Melbourne Ports) (10:45): I am pleased to have this opportunity to voice my support for the amendments to the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation Act 1979, the Intelligence Services Act 2001and the Criminal Code Act 1995. These amendments aim to strengthen the operation of some provisions in these acts.

The amendments align the definition of foreign intelligence in the ASIO Act with other acts, clarify ASIO's computer access warrants and authorise access to data held in a target computer at any time during the life of the warrant. They exclude the communication of information relating to employment within the Australian intelligence community from ASIO security assessment provisions. They provide the Defence Imagery and Geospatial Organisation with the general function of providing support and assistance to the Australian Defence Force. The amendments include a new ground relating to the breach of UN sanctions for ministerial authorisations for the production of intelligence on an Australian person under the intelligence act and provide immunity provisions in the IS Act and in part 10.7 of the Criminal Code. This cannot be overridden unless expressly stated in other legislation. The member for Mitchell said that we cannot always provide exact recommendations for our services to go about their task, but this amendment, particularly on the possible breach of UN sanctions and people involved in that, is very important, and I want to focus on that in my remarks. This new ground will apply where the minister is satisfied that an Australian person is involved in, or likely to be involved in, activities related to the contravention of a UN sanction enforcement law.

Information intelligence on those who move goods or money to specific countries contrary to UN sanctions is becoming an increasing focus for the intelligence community. This new ground is particularly important if we consider one of the greatest threats to international stability is Iran's pursuit of nuclear and missile technology and its unlikely connection to Australia. Various European papers have reported, on the basis of WikiLeaks that, in the period 2006-2007, 350 Iranian companies and organisations were involved in the pursuit of nuclear and missile technologies. They have done this by moving goods and money through various individuals and organisations worldwide, violating and circumventing UN sanctions to acquire the following materials: computers and control systems required to run nuclear reactors, uranium for the use of enriching plutonium for use in nuclear weapons and alloy steel gyroscopes and graphite used to increase the range of ballistic missiles. The regime in Tehran has attempted to purchase these materials through individuals and organisations in the following countries: South Korea, China, Spain, Japan, South Africa, Taiwan, North Korea, Brazil, Sweden, Switzerland, Ukraine, the Czech Republic, India, Turkey, Germany, Ecuador, Canada, the Netherlands, the UK and the USA. This is a direct violation of the sanctions of United Nations Security Council Resolution 1929.

The new ground in this bill ensures that Australian individuals who would seek to circumvent UN sanctions, such as through the pursuit of nuclear and missile technology, would be monitored. This collection of intelligence would allow our agencies to detect initiatives from various countries like Iran at the earliest possible stages. Last year Australia joined the United States, the European Union, Japan and South Korea in imposing autonomous sanctions on Iran beyond the United Nations sanctions in order to achieve a peaceful outcome of preventing Iran, with all of its aggressive international claims, from acquiring nuclear weapons to be matched with its ballistic missile technology. In Australia this was followed by the then Minister for Defence, John Faulkner, using powers afforded to him under the Weapons of Mass Destruction (Prevention of Proliferation) Act to block and issue prohibition orders on three companies which sought to export goods that could be used in these developments in the production, acquisition and stockpiling of such weapons. There is evidence that Iran has been successfully evading previous sanctions by, for example, rebranding its shipping fleet so that ships no longer appear to be Iranian owned. Recently Senegal was forced to cut off relations with Iran when it discovered in a nearby port in Lagos that a Marseilles based company, CMA CGM, had sought to transfer arms into that country. Similarly, a ship, the Victoria, was arrested—I suppose that is the word—off the coast of Gaza containing arms in violation of the UN Security Council resolution 1929. Again, it was a ship operated by CMA CGM, a highly dubious company which is obviously some kind of Iranian front. I have sought assurances from the Minister for Foreign Affairs and other relevant ministers that these ships do not transit through Australia, that they are inspected if they do, and that they do not have cargoes that are in violation of UN Security Council resolutions.

I commend the government for acting very strongly under its existing powers to support the United Nations on these shipments of arms to Iran for activities that have been criticised by the UN Security Council. But I do also think that this new ground enhances the existing ground for ministerial authorisations for activities that relate to the contravention of these UN sanctions. These amendments strengthen the ASIO Act, the Intelligences Services Act and the Criminal Code Act. I welcome them and I hope the government will make effective use of the powers which this bill creates. I commend the bill to the House and I commend the minister for including these amendments in the act.