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Thursday, 26 September 2002
Page: 5000

Senator FAULKNER (Leader of the Opposition in the Senate) (2:27 PM) —My question is directed to Senator Hill, representing the Minister for Foreign Affairs. Can the minister confirm that, by means of section 6(1)(e) and section 6(2) of the Intelligence Services Act 2001, parliament has authorised ASIS to undertake activities other than those set out in the act, provided that these are set out by the Minister for Foreign Affairs in a ministerial direction to ASIS? Can the minister advise the Senate whether the foreign minister has issued a ministerial direction to ASIS in relation to the government's people-smuggling disruption program?

Senator HILL (Minister for Defence) —I am asked that question as representing the Minister for Foreign Affairs. I do not know the answer and, even if I did know the answer, I am not sure whether I would be able to answer, according to the usual constraints upon security matters. But I will seek the advice of the Minister for Foreign Affairs and report back to the Senate in due course.

Senator FAULKNER —Mr President, I ask a supplementary question. I appreciate the minister's commitment to report back to the Senate. I ask him to do so as soon as possible. I also ask him if he would convey to the Minister for Foreign Affairs a request to have the Leader of the Opposition briefed on any such ministerial direction.

Senator HILL (Minister for Defence) —The Minister for Foreign Affairs will no doubt hear, or be told, that you would like the response promptly. In relation to a request from the Leader of the Opposition for a briefing, I think that he is quite able to make that himself.