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Tuesday, 14 October 2008
Page: 34


Senator MARSHALL (4:06 PM) —On behalf of the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security, I present the following reports of the committee:

   Annual report of committee activities 2007-08, dated October 2008.

   Review of the re-listing of Al-Qa’ida, Jemaah Islamiyah and Al-Qa’ida in the Lands of the Islamic Maghreb—Report, dated October 2008.

Ordered that the reports be printed.


Senator MARSHALL —by leave—I move:

That the Senate take note of the reports.

I seek leave to incorporate the tabling statements in Hansard.

Leave granted.

The statements read as follows—

ANNUAL REPORT OF COMMITTEE ACTIVITIES 2007-2008

On behalf of the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security I have pleasure in presenting the Committee’s report entitled Annual Report of Committee Activities 2007-2008. Due to the election this report covers work by the Committee of the 41st and the 42nd Parliaments.

The Committee completed another full and productive year scrutinising terrorism legislation and aspects of the administration and expenditure of the intelligence agencies. Since the last annual report on the Committee’s activities, tabled in June 2007, the Committee has tabled six reports. In addition to the tabled reports, the Committee is currently conducting the sixth review of administration and expenditure

The fifth review of administration and expenditure was the first full review which looked broadly at the administration and expenditure of the six intelligence and security agencies since the Intelligence Services Act was amended in December 2005 to add the Defence Imagery Geospatial Organisation, the Office National Assessment and the Defence Intelligence Organisation to the Committee’s oversight responsibilities.

Overall, the Committee was satisfied the administration of the six intelligence and security agencies was sound. As an issue of significance in previous years, the Committee found that, whilst the security clearance process had been streamlined and some backlog had been cleared, completing clearances within a reasonable timeframe was still an issue for most agencies. The recruitment of the required numbers of staff with necessary language skills also continues to remain an issue for most agencies. Overall, the Committee indicated that agencies were doing all they could to overcome this problem.

The other major review of 2007 was the statutory review of the proscription of ‘terrorist organisations’ under Subsection 102.1A(2) of the Criminal Code.

The Committee noted the need for an adequate community communication or education programme to accompany a listing or a re-listing. This is an area of continuing interest to the Committee.

On 5 May 2008 the Committee accepted the resignation of Senator Robert Ray. The Committee recorded its appreciation by highlighting Senator Ray’s substantial contribution to the work of the Committee. His contribution has left the Committee with an excellent reputation within the Australian Intelligence Community.

Finally, the Committee of the 42 nd Parliament is concerned that there is an insufficient pool of staff with the necessary top secret security clearances within the Department of the House of Representatives to provide flexibility and to compensate for staff movements. Accordingly, the Committee recommends to the Presiding Officers the need for additional staff to have security clearances.

On behalf of the Committee, I take this opportunity to thank and commend the Secretariat for their excellent support to the Committee.

In conclusion, and on behalf of the Committee, I would like to thank all those who have contributed to the work of the Committee during the past year.

I commend the report to the Senate.


REVIEW OF THE RELISTING OF AQ, JI and AQIM

On behalf of the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security I have pleasure in presenting the Committee’s report entitled Review of the Relisting Al - Qa’ida, Jemaah Islamiyah and Al-Qa’ida in the Lands of the Maghreb.

Al-Oa’ida and Jemaah Islamiyah were originally listed on 21 and 27 October 2002 and re-listed on 31 August 2004, with effect on 1 September 2004. The Committee first considered the listing of Al-Qa’ida and Jemaah Islamiyah in 2004 after the Committee’s role in the Criminal Code procedure had been established. Both organisations were again re-listed on 4 September 2006 and the Committee subsequently reviewed the re-listing, reporting to Parliament in October 2006.

Al-Qa’ida in the lands of the Islamic Maghreb was originally listed under the name Salafist Group for Call and Combat (GSPC) in 2002 following their listing by the United Nations Security Council. `The Committee first considered the listing of the GSPC in 2004 after the Committee’s role in the Criminal procedure had been established.  The GSPC was re-listed on 5 November 2004 and again on 1 November 2006.

The regulations were signed by the Governor-General on 7 August 2008. They were then tabled in the House of Representatives and the Senate on 26 August.  The disallowance period of 15 sitting days for the Committee’s review of the listing began from the date of the tabling.  Therefore the Committee was required to report to the Parliament by today, 13 October 2008.

Notice of the inquiry was placed on the Committee’s website.  No submissions were received from the public. Representatives of the Attorney-General’s Department and ASIO attended a private hearing on the listings.

The Committee heard evidence that each of these three organisations continue to engage in, and offer support for terrorist acts. The assessed likelihood that Al-Qa’ida has shifted some of its focus from Iraq to Afghanistan make it likely that Australian troops in Afghanistan confront armed forces linked to Al-Qa’ida.

Although there have been no anti-Western attacks committed by Jemaah Islamiyah in South-East Asia since the last re-listing the Committee heard that within Indonesia it is reported that JI has engaged in sectarian terrorist activities, such as assassinations and bombings.

Al-Qa’ida in the Lands of the Islamic Maghgreb’s most significant attack on Western interests was the 11 December 2007 suicide bombing attack on the UN Office in Algiers, which killed 17 people. This constituted the worst attack on the UN since the bombing of the UN Headquarters in Iraq in 2003.

In view of this the Committee will not recommend to the Parliament that the regulations made to proscribe these 3 organisations be disallowed.

Lastly I would like to thank the Secretariat, Mr Robert Little, Ms Philippa Davies and Mrs Donna Quintus-Bosz

I commend the report to the Senate.