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Thursday, 26 March 2015
Page: 2656


Senator BRANDIS (QueenslandDeputy Leader of the Government in the Senate, Vice-President of the Executive Council, Minister for Arts and Attorney-General) (18:03): I move:

That this bill be now read a third time.

I want to thank the Senate for the debate that we have had through a long committee stage. Nobody could say that this has been a rushed process, it being the culmination of something that began in May 2013, when former Attorney-General Roxon referred this issue to the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security. I think it is very important, particularly where national security legislation is involved, that the issues be fully ventilated, and I do not think it could be said that they have not been. I want to thank the three principal crossbench participants in this debate, Senator Leyonhjelm, Senator Xenophon and Senator Ludlam, for their contributions. Obviously the government has not agreed with those contributions, but nevertheless observations that have come from the crossbench in the course of this debate will inform the government's thinking about this legislation when it comes to be reviewed, and I think we have had, for what has been a difficult issue, a very civil and intelligent debate, if I may say so.

I want to thank a couple of people. I want to thank Anna Harmer, from the Attorney-General's Department, and Simon Lee and their team for their hard work. I want to thank the hardworking officers of ASIO, whom it would be a crime for me to name, for their contribution, but I can name the former Director-General of Security, David Irvine, who, more than anyone else, was the parent of these reforms, and the current director-general, Duncan Lewis.

I want to thank my colleagues, particularly my colleague Malcolm Turnbull, who introduced this legislation and handled it in the lower house; Mr Anthony Byrne, the former Chair of the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security, who conducted the committee through the hearings during the last parliament with notable skill and nonpartisanship; and Mr Dan Tehan, the member for Wannon, who displayed a similar spirit during the inquiry into the bill in this parliament. May I thank the opposition, in particular the shadow Attorney-General, Mr Dreyfus, for its support of this important measure. Lastly, may I thank my staff, in particular Justin Bassi, my adviser, and Emma Swinbourne, from my office, for the very hard work that they have put into this legislation.

This legislation does contain protections that were not there before. It does preserve a capability for the police and national security and commercial regulatory agencies which was on the verge of being lost. It does contain safeguards that were not there before. It is, in the government's view—shared, I am pleased to say, by the opposition—a measured and proportionate response. Its operation will be conducted over a long implementation period, as the bill provides. It will be the subject of the statutory review, and certain aspects of it will be the subject of sooner review.

In dealing with national security issues, we do have to bring the public with us. We do have to get the balance right between protection and liberty. The bipartisan spirit with which this bill has been dealt with in this parliament and the constructiveness of the engagement of those who did not feel able to support the bill but nevertheless engaged in the debate in the manner in which they have done I think are a credit to all who have participated in the debate and a credit to this parliament.