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Wednesday, 8 October 1975
Page: 1843

Mr WHITLAM (Werriwa) (Prime Minister) I move:

That the Bill be now read a second time.

Immediately following the introduction of this Bill, I shall be introducing Bills to amend the Telephonic Communications (Interception) Act 1960-1975 and the Conciliation and Arbitration Act 1904-1975. The subject matter of the 3 Bills is related and I propose to refer to all 3 of them in this speech.

Honourable members will know that on 26 September I announced that the Government had decided to appoint Mr Justice A. E. Woodward, O.B.E., to be the head of the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation. He is to take up his new duties on 24 November 1975 and it is intended that the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation Bill will come into effect on that day. In announcing Mr Justice Woodward 's appointment, I said that it is appropriate that this very important position should be filled by a judge and that in the Government's view this position should in future always be filled by a person holding judicial office. The Government holds strongly to this view.

Arising from the Government's decision to appoint a judge to head the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation, this Bill ensures that such an appointment of a judge does not affect his tenure of office as a judge, or the salary, allowances and other rights and privileges that he has by virtue of his judicial office. Service of a judge in this position is to count as judicial service for all purposes. There is no such provision in the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation Act as it now stands and what the Government is proposing is in line with similar provisions which have been passed by this Parliament on other occasions. Section 13 of the Law Reform Commission Act 1973, for example, enables a judge to be appointed as a commissioner and retain his judicial status and the rights which attach to that status. Further, I remind honourable members that while he was a justice of the High Court of Australia, Sir Owen Dixon, who later became Chief Justice, was appointed Australian Minister to the United States in 1942 and the Judiciary (Diplomatic Representation) Act 1 942 was passed to enable him to hold that office in addition to his judicial office.

The Bill provides for the official title of the head of ASIO to be changed from 'DirectorGeneral' to 'Director'. In November last year, the Government agreed that, in Australian Government Organisations, the title 'Director' should ordinarily be used in preference to 'Director-General' except in the case of organisations with significant state offices headed by 'Directors'. Expression has been given to this policy in other legislation- for example in the course of the passage of the Australian Development Assistance Agency Bill through this House in December 1974 the title 'Director-General' wherever appearing was changed to 'Director'. This was agreed without division.

A judge appointed as Director is to receive such additional salary and annual allowance as are necessary to bring his salary and annual allowance to the level payable to the Chief Judge of the Australian Industrial Court. Mr Justice Woodward now receives such additional remuneration by virtue of his office as President of the Trade Practices Tribunal. Provision is made for the salary of the Director to be determined by the Remuneration Tribunal in the situation where the Director is not a judge. In accordance with the policy of the Government, the opportunity is being taken to change references to 'the Commonwealth' in the existing Australian Security Intelligence Organisation Act and the Telephonic Communications (Interception) Act to 'Australia ' or 'Australian '.

The second Bill, the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill (No. 2), provides for an increase of one in the number of judges in the Australian Industrial Court so that the Court will consist of a Chief Judge and ten other judges. This will allow the court to operate at its full strength during the period of Mr Justice Woodward's appointment with ASIO, which is for 7 years.

The third Bill, the Telephonic Communications (Interception) Bill, provides for the Prime Minister in future to be responsible for the issue of warrants to authorise the interception of telephonic communications. The provisions relating to the issue of warrants are found in sections 6 to 12 of the existing legislation. This change is proposed following the revised administrative arrangements order made on 26 September whereby the administration of the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation Act was transferred to the Prime Minister. The Attorney-General will remain responsible for the administration of the other sections of the Telephonic Communications (Interception) Act and for the prosecution of offences under the Act. Secondly, the Bill provides for consequential amendments of the principal Act arising from the change in title of the head of ASIO. I commend the Bills to the House.

Debate (on motion by Mr Street) adjourned.

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