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Thursday, 7 December 2017
Page: 13151

Mr TURNBULL (WentworthPrime Minister) (18:22): I move:

That this bill be now read a second time.

Today I am introducing legislation to establish a Home Affairs portfolio which will bring together Australia's security, law enforcement, criminal intelligence and emergency management functions under the direction of one senior minister.

A new Department of Home Affairs will be responsible for setting strategies and coordinating policies on counterterrorism and violent extremism, counter foreign interference, serious and organised crime, cybersecurity, border security, immigration and social cohesion.

The portfolio will include the Department of Immigration and Border Protection as well as the Australian Federal Police, AUSTRAC and the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission.

ASIO will be included within the portfolio after the passage of this legislation in the new year.

Each of the intelligence and law enforcement agencies will retain their full statutory independence. This structure is modelled loosely on the arrangements in the United Kingdom and, of course, their Home Office.

At the same time, we are strengthening our intelligence architecture by creating an Office of National Intelligence in my portfolio and empowering it with a leadership role in our intelligence community.

Modelled loosely on its US counterpart, the ONI will not only provide analysis and assessments but also advise on priorities, improve coordination and raise performance accountability across the community.

Together, these initiatives represent the most far-reaching reorganisation of our national security architecture since the Hope royal commissions of the late seventies and early eighties.

Why now?

To those who argue that the system is not broken, I can reassure you that you are absolutely right.

We have been incredibly well served by our intelligence, security, and law enforcement agencies.

There has not been a single point of crisis that has led politicians to scramble in hasty reaction.

But that is precisely the point.

We are not going to sit here avoiding improvements that could be made and waiting for a crisis that exposes the need for them.

If I could quote a former head of ASIO, Paul O'Sullivan, speaking immediately after the announcement of my decision to establish a Home Affairs portfolio, he said, 'Improvements should be made before something is broken.'

Or to quote his successor, and also former head of ASIS, David Irvine, 'Too often, governments are only stirred to improve national security or law enforcement capabilities after some catastrophic failure.'

These reforms are driven by the reality that the threat environment we face is rapidly changing and, it has to be said, worsening.

The fact is we are being tested, stretched. States are adapting. Terrorists are adapting. Serious and organised crime gangs are adapting. And so must we.

New threats are emerging which did not exist when the security architecture was designed in the 1970s. Others have evolved to be barely recognisable from what we knew back then. Much of this evolution has been enabled by technology.

The reforms that we are introducing today mean that our national security system will be stronger, more resilient and more responsive.


Importantly, at the same time that we are strengthening our security arrangements, we are also strengthening integrity and oversight.

In his enhanced role as first law officer and minister for integrity—that will not be his title, but that is essentially a good description of the role—the Attorney-General will assume responsibility for the Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security, the Independent National Security Legislation Monitor and the Commonwealth Ombudsman.

And the Attorney will continue to sign off on all ASIO warrants.

There are some who believe security and freedom to be binary opposites, as if there exists a universe in which you could have one without the other.

To the contrary, I am sure that all honourable members agree that these dual objectives can be—in fact must be—mutually reinforcing.

'Freedom,' said the philosopher Karl Popper, 'defeats itself if it is unlimited.'


Terrorists, hostile intelligence agencies, people smugglers and criminal syndicates—from drug peddlers to pedophile rings—are all probing for our vulnerabilities, online and off.

Border security

We have seen extraordinary progress in our efforts on border security. There has not been a single people-smuggling boat reach our shores in over 1,200 days. No deaths at sea, no illegal people smuggling trade, no kids in detention.

Compare this achievement with the frayed social cohesion that you see elsewhere in the world when nations lose control of their borders and fail to invest, as we do, in the integration of migrants who arrive.

Tragically, in our own country, a collapse of border security emboldened 50,000 individuals to entrust their lives to people smugglers. This resulted in over 1,200 deaths at sea.

We cannot afford to let this happen again. We will not let it happen again.

At the same time, we have been able to increase our humanitarian program as well as resettle 12,000 refugees from the Syrian conflict.

This would not have been possible without our strong border management policies and high levels of public confidence in our well-managed migration system.

When we look around the world—with its broken borders and 65 million displaced people—we see that this is no time for complacency. People smugglers are constantly testing our resolve. I want to pay credit to the work of the Department of Immigration and Border Protection, the work of Operation Sovereign Borders and the work of Border Force, and the leadership that has been shown by the minister and, of course, by his predecessor, now Treasurer.

Foreign Interference and Espionage

We start from a stronger foundation than most other countries. Australia's strengths are freedom, diversity and security.

These attributes are not mutually exclusive; rather they are mutually reinforcing.

Security is a prerequisite to the trust and confidence that allows a diverse and free society to flourish.

The far-reaching reforms I'm introducing today align with our vision for how we will engage with the world—from the foreign policy white paper to the defence white paper to the Cyber Security Strategy.

Our reforms will strengthen the Australian Cyber Security Centre's role as the backbone of our enhanced cybersecurity capabilities. The operational experts in the ACSC will work closely with the policymakers in Home Affairs.

And the transformation of the Australian Signals Directorate into a statutory authority within the Defence portfolio enhances our international leverage.

Today's reforms will enhance the benefits of the nine tranches of national security legislation the coalition has taken through parliament since August 2014.

From combating foreign fighters and preventing terror attacks at home, to the telecommunications sector security reforms and establishing the Critical Infrastructure Centre—the establishment of the Home Affairs portfolio will provide a lasting foundation to make best use of these reforms and safeguard Australian lives and interests.

Key aspects of the Home Affairs and Integrity Agencies Amendment Bill.

The three broad changes I'm introducing today to our national security agencies and arrangements are the most far reaching in our history.

First, the creation of a Home Affairs portfolio brings together our law enforcement, counterterrorism, counter-foreign-interference, border security, transport security, intelligence and cybersecurity capabilities.

For the first time we will have a single Minister for Home Affairs providing the government with comprehensive, integrated advice about the threats we face and how we should respond.

Second, the overhaul of our intelligence architecture will add new capability, coordination and accountability. The new Office of National Intelligence will provide strategic leadership and enhanced enterprise management.

Third, the Attorney-General will enhance his role as first law officer. He will retain responsibility for the administration of the criminal justice system, including formal international crime cooperation mechanisms, while taking on a suite of new oversight responsibilities with our intelligence community.

The Attorney-General will be, as I noted earlier, the Minister for Integrity, in line with the United States and UK models. We must ensure Australians have confidence in the scrutiny and oversight of our intelligence agencies.

Security and integrity go hand in hand, each enables the other.


The question is not what freedoms must we forgo to ensure security but what security is required to enable our freedom.

Security is a precondition for the trust and confidence that allows a diverse and free society to flourish.

This Home Affairs and Integrity Agencies Legislation Amendment Bill will build our resilience, reinforce the integrity of our systems and prevent malicious actors from taking advantage of our freedom.

A decade ago it was all about counterterrorism, still a very, very pressing threat, as we know. But adversaries, threats and technology have proliferated and evolved.

North Korea is a pressing threat to peace at this minute but it cannot distract us from the need to combat Islamist terrorism, or foreign interference in our political system, or criminal syndicates looking to smuggle drugs, people, weapons or run paedophile rings all aided by the internet.

These are all critical priorities. They all must be our focus.

The new arrangements will help us integrate all our efforts to counter these threats, growing threats, and prioritise and reprioritise as necessary for optimal results and without unnecessary duplication.

This is how we will keep Australia safe, keep families safe, keep our interests secure.

This is the pathway to ensure our great nation retains its freedom, security and diversity.

I commend the bill to the House.

Debate adjourned.