Chapter 1 The Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security
Section 28 of the Intelligence Services Act 2001 (the IS Act)
establishes the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security. The
Act governs its size, structure, functions, procedures and powers. This report
is made in compliance with section 31 of the Act which states that:
As soon as practicable after each year ending on 30 June, the
Committee must give to Parliament a report on the activities of the Committee
during the year.
This report covers the period from 1 July 2011 to 31 June 2012.
Size and Structure
Section 28 (2) (3) of the IS Act stipulates that the Committee is a
joint Committee of Parliament comprised of eleven members, five of whom must be
Senators and six of whom must be members of the House of Representatives. A
majority of the Committee’s members must be government members.
Members are appointed by resolution of the House or the Senate on the
nomination of the Prime Minister or the leader of the Government in the Senate.
Prior to nomination, consultation must take place with the leaders of
recognised parties in each of the Houses.
Under section 29 of the IS Act, the Committee is charged with reviewing
the administration and expenditure of all six intelligence agencies: ASIO, ASIS, DSD, DIGO, DIO and ONA. Other matters may be referred by the responsible Minister or by a
resolution of either House of the Parliament.
In addition to this function, the Committee is required to review the
operation, effectiveness and implications of:
- The amendments made
by the Security Legislation Amendment (Terrorism) Act 2002 and the following
Border Security Legislation Amendment Act 2002;
Criminal Code Amendment (Suppression Terrorist Bombings) Act 2002; and
Suppression of the Financing of Terrorism Act 2002; and
- Division 3 of Part III of the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation Act 1979.
Amendments made to the Criminal Code Act 1995 (the Criminal
Code), made in March 2004, further tasked the Committee with reviewing
regulations which specify organisations as terrorist organisations for the
purposes of section 102.1 of the Criminal Code. The Committee’s findings on its
reviews of these regulations are to be tabled before the end of the
disallowance period, 15 sitting days from the tabling of the regulation.
Two reports reviewing regulations which specify organisations as
terrorist organisations were tabled during the reporting period.
Procedures and powers
The Committee is a statutory committee. Section 29 of the IS Act
outlines the oversight capacity of the Committee. However unlike other
statutory or standing committees of Parliament there are specific limitations
in this section with regard to the Committee’s capacity to inquire into
operational matters and the intelligence gathering and assessment priorities of
the relevant intelligence agencies. Again the Committee
reiterates that, due to this limitation, balancing national security and
parliamentary scrutiny remains a challenge for the Committee.
Despite these constraints, the Committee is ever mindful of its critical role
in ensuring that Australia’s intelligence agencies remain accountable through
continuous public scrutiny.
Authority to inquire into special cases and operational matters lies
with the Inspector General of Intelligence and Security (IGIS) under the Inspector
General of Intelligence and Security Act 1986. In conjunction with the IGIS
the Committee provides essential bi-partisan oversight of the AIC.
Specific prohibitions on the Committee’s activities include the
- Reviewing the
intelligence gathering priorities of the agencies;
- Reviewing sources of
information, other operational assistance or operational methods available to
- Reviewing particular
operations past, present or proposed;
- Reviewing sources of
information provided by a foreign government or its agencies, without the
consent of that government to the disclosure;
- Reviewing an aspect
of the activities of the agencies that does not affect an Australian person;
- Reviewing rules with
the Act relating to the privacy of Australian citizens; or
- Conducting inquiries into
individual complaints in relation to the activities of the agencies.
The IS Act also specifies the Committee’s powers in relation to
requesting witnesses and the production of documents. Clause 2 of Schedule 1
specifies that the Committee may give a person written notice requiring the
person to appear before the Committee with at least 5 days notice, as well as
notice of any documents required by the Committee.
The Minister may prevent the appearance of a person (not an agency head)
before the Committee to prevent the disclosure of operationally sensitive
information either verbally or in a document. To achieve this, the Minister
must provide a certificate outlining his opinion to the presiding member of the
Committee, to the Speaker of the House of Representatives, the President of the
Senate and the person required to give evidence or produce documents.
There were no cases where this power was exercised during the year in review.
The IS Act also contains a protection, under subclause 7(1) of Schedule
1, against the disclosure in Committee reports of operationally sensitive
- the identity of a
person who is or has been a staff member of ASIO, ASIS or DSD; or
- any information from
which the identity of such a person could reasonably be inferred; or
sensitive information that would or might prejudice:
- Australia’s national security or the conduct of Australia’s foreign relations; or
performance by an agency of its functions.
Unlike the reports of other parliamentary committees which are
privileged documents which may not be disclosed to anyone outside the committee
itself until after tabling, the Intelligence and Security Committee must obtain
the advice of the responsible Minister or Ministers as to whether any part of a
report of the Committee discloses a matter referred to in subclause 7(1) of
Schedule 1. A report may not be tabled until this advice is received.
Lastly, to protect the national security status of the Committee’s work
and to maximise the Committee’s access to information, the IS Act requires that
staff of the Committee must be cleared for security purposes to the same level
and at the same frequency as staff members of ASIS.
In addition to the security requirements for staff all new members of
the Committee in 2010-11 were informed of the main legislation governing
information regarding the AIC.
This information to members specifies that Section 92 of the ASIO Act
1979 makes it illegal to divulge the names of employees or former employees of
ASIO. Section 41 of the IS Act makes it illegal to divulge the names of
employees of ASIS. Sections 39, 39A and 40 of the IS Act make it illegal to
divulge the names of employees or former employees of ASIS, DIGO and DSD. These
sections also make it illegal to divulge information connected with functions
of or information that relates to performance of functions of ASIS, DIGO and DSD. Members were also informed that this prohibition extends to information
Committee members receive at briefings by these agencies.
Reports and Activities 2011-2012
Administration and Expenditure Reviews
Reviewing administration and expenditure on an annual basis is one of
the primary functions of the Committee. Section 29 of the IS Act stipulates
that the Committee has an obligation to review the administration and
expenditure of ASIO, ASIS, DSD, DIO, DIGO and ONA including the annual
On 18 June 2012 the Committee tabled its Review of Administration and
Expenditure No. 9, 2009-2010.
This review, tabled on 18 June 2012, examined a wide range of aspects of
the administration and expenditure of the six intelligence and security
agencies, including the financial statements for each agency, their human
resource management, training, recruitment and accommodation. In addition the
review looked at issues of interoperability between members of the AIC.
Submissions were sought from each of the six intelligence and security
agencies, from the Australian National Audit Office (ANAO) and from the
Inspector General of Intelligence and Security (IGIS).
The submissions from ANAO and the six intelligence agencies were all
classified Confidential, Restricted or Secret and were therefore not made available
to the public. As has been its practice for previous reviews, ASIO provided the
Committee with both a classified and an unclassified submission. The
unclassified version was made available on the Committee’s website.
Each of the Defence intelligence agencies provided the Committee with a
classified submission. The agencies marked each paragraph with its relevant
national security classification. This enabled the Committee for its 2009-10
review to directly refer in this report to unclassified information provided in
the Defence agencies submissions.
The Committee also received five submissions from members of the public
or public organisations which included:
- Asylum Seeker
- Brigidine Asylum
- Refugee Council of
These submissions all dealt with ASIO security assessments of refugees.
On 25 March 2011 the Committee held a private hearing at which ASIO,
ASIS, DSD, DIGO, ONA and DIO appeared before the Committee. On 16 June 2011 the
Committee held a public hearing — its first since July 2006 — and heard from
representatives of the Refugee Council of Australia, RISE (Refugees, Survivors
and Ex-Detainees), the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre and ASIO in relation to
visa security assessments.
The Committee noted the request by some advocacy groups for ASIO to
declare its non-statutory criteria for making visa security assessments. The
Committee found that making non-statutory criteria publicly available could compromise
national security because applications from potentially hostile individuals
could be tailored to meet these criteria. The Committee therefore did not
support this suggestion.
The Committee noted that since its previous administration and expenditure
inquiry, ASIO’s visa security assessment workload has increased significantly.
Processes for undertaking visa security assessments have been placed under
considerable strain and, in some cases, assessments have taken longer than is
The Committee took very seriously the concerns put before it by various
refugee and asylum seeker advocacy groups but it also recognised that the job ASIO
has is a very difficult one. Therefore, the Committee welcomed the efforts,
introduced by ASIO on 1 March 2011, to streamline the process of security
assessments in an attempt to clear the backlog and to process future assessments
in less time. The Committee was satisfied that the current regime for visa
security assessments is the correct one and noted that the IGIS has stated that
ASIO is doing its job in a “proper and legal manner”.
Overall, the Committee was satisfied that the administration and expenditure
of the six intelligence and security agencies is sound.
However concerns raised in relation to the Efficiency Dividend’s impact
on agencies during the Committee’s Review of Administration and Expenditure:
Australian Intelligence Organisations, Number 8 were specifically raised in
the evidence the Committee took for this review. This was extremely concerning
to the Committee.
The Committee was pleased with the level of information given to it in
relation to interoperability and will continue to monitor this area to ensure
that interoperability management and budgetary structures are in place across
Reviews of terrorist listings
This report, tabled on 22 August 2011, reviewed the initial listing of
the terrorist organisation known as Al Qa’ida in the Arabian Peninsula
and the re-listing of six previously listed terrorist organisations, namely:
- Al Qa’ida (AQ),
- Jemaah Islamiah (JI)
- Al-Qa’ida in the
Islamic Maghreb (AQIM)
- Jamiat ul-Ansar (JuA)
- Abu Sayyaf Group
- Al Qa’ida in Iraq
Due to the dissolution of the 42nd Parliament and the 2010
Federal election, advice to the Committee from the Attorney-General’s
Department of the new listing and the re-listings was unavoidably delayed and
the Committee was therefore unable to review these organisations and report to
Parliament within the disallowance period. However, the Committee resolved to
review the new listing of Al Qa’ida in the Arabian Peninsula and the re-listing
of six other terrorist organisations and report to Parliament, albeit outside
the disallowance period.
The Committee would not have recommended disallowance of the regulations
for any of these seven organisations had the Committee been able to complete
its review within the disallowance period.
As with previous Committee reports on listings and re-listings of
terrorist organisations, this report identifies issues relating to the current
nature and reach of each of the organisations, with particular emphasis, in the
case of the six re-listings, on developments since the Committee last reviewed
As mentioned above, this was the first listing of Al Qa’ida in the
Arabian Peninsula – also known as AQAP. The Committee took evidence that AQAP has
been involved in a number of terrorist attacks in the Arabian Peninsula, both
within and outside Yemen.
Terrorist attacks which AQAP has recently claimed responsibility for include:
- On 7 January 2012, twelve
soldiers were killed when AQAP militants attacked three military vehicles in
the city of Lawdar in Yemen;
- On 29 October 2011,
two improvised explosive devices sent from Yemen using international courier
companies were intercepted in the United Kingdom and in the United Arab
Emirates. The devices were disguised as packages and addressed to synagogues in
Chicago. AQAP claimed responsibility for sending these devices.
- In claiming
responsibility for the attempted IED attacks mentioned above, AQAP further
claimed to have been responsible for the downing of a UPS cargo plane in Dubai
in early September 2010 in which two crew members were killed; and
- On 23 July 2010, AQAP
militants ambushed a military patrol in Shabwah province in Yemen, killing six
- The Committee found
that AQAP is engaging in activities that satisfy section 102.1 of the Criminal
Code. The Committee would not have recommended disallowance of the regulations
to list AQAP.
This was the fourth re-listing of Al-Qa’ida, Jemaah Islamiyah, Al-Qa’ida
in the Lands of the Islamic Maghreb, Jamiat ul-Ansar and the Abu Sayyaf Group;
and it is the third re-listing of Al-Qa’ida in Iraq. In each case the
Committee was satisfied that each of these groups continued to engage in
terrorist activities which could be a threat to Australians or Australian
interests either here in Australia or overseas.
This review was tabled on 28 May 2012
Ansar al-Islam (AAI) plans and conducts attacks against foreign forces,
Shia, Kurdish and Iraqi government interests. AAI’s attacks most commonly
target US and Iraqi security forces in Iraq using Improvised Explosive Devices
(IEDs) and Indirect Fire (IDF) attacks.
The Statement of Reasons listed over fifty attacks for which AAI has
indicated responsibility, by posting a video or media statement, in the period
since the last review. Their methods have included assassinations, the use of
small arms, thermal grenades, and IED and mortar attacks against Iraqi police
and military personnel and against US military patrols, bases and vehicles.
The Committee recommended that the regulation in relation to Ansar
al-Islam not be disallowed.
The Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU) is a militant Islamist group
based and operating in Central and South Asia. The group established relations
with the Taliban and Al-Qaeda, and allegedly became extensively involved in narcotics
trafficking. One of its founders, Namangani, was killed during the US-led
invasion of Afghanistan in 2001, and the remnants of the IMU fled across the
border to the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) of Pakistan.
Although its capabilities were severely degraded, the following years
saw the IMU regroup in the South Waziristan area of the FATA, where it
established close links to a number of Pakistani Taliban groups and reportedly
participated in cross-border attacks on the International Security Assistance
Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan.
Notwithstanding increasing pressure from ISAF and Pakistani security
forces, reports throughout 2010 indicated that the IMU had re-established an
operational presence in northern Afghanistan, and the group also claimed
responsibility for a series of attacks in Tajikistan.
The Committee recommended that the regulation in relation to the IMU not
The statement of reasons indicated that Jaish-e- Mohammed (JeM) is based
in Pakistan and operates primarily in Indian Administered Kashmir (IAK). JeM
operatives have been involved in attacks against civilian and military targets
in Afghanistan, India and Pakistan. JeM attacks have included suicide bombings
in 2001 and 2003 with most attacks since that time involving grenades and
JeM continued to concentrate its efforst against Indian security forces
(military and police), government installations and civilians in the disputed
territory of IAK. In addition, JeM has broadened its operational focus to join
the Afghan Taliban in attacks against government and Coalition forces in
The Committee recommended that the regulation in relation to JeM not be
Jane’s Terrorism and Insurgency Centre states that Lashkar-e Jhangvi (LeJ) activities
have been curbed following the arrest of key leaders and the particular focus
of the military and police authorities on the group, resulting in the arrest of
hundreds of activists.
Following the killing of Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden in May 2011,
the LeJ vowed to conduct a series of retaliatory attacks. To this end, a
spokesman for the LeJ, identifying himself as Ali Sher Haidri, released a
statement in mid-May 2011 threatening to avenge Bin Laden's death by targeting
not only government ministers and security force personnel but also Shia Muslims
from the ethnic Hazara community in Pakistan.
The LeJ followed through with these threats with a series of significant
attacks in and around Quetta between May and July 2011.
The statement of reasons listed twelve acts of terrorism attributed to or
suspected of being perpetrated by the LeJ.
The Committee recommended that the regulation in relation to LeJ not be
On 15 September 2011 the Committee received a private briefing on
Parliament’s IT Security.
On 21 November 2011 the Committee received a private briefing from Mr
Brett Walker SC, the Independent National Security Legislation Monitor.
On 19 March 2012 the Committee received a private briefing from the AFP
Commissioner Tony Negus and AFP Deputy Commissioner, National Security, Peter
On 22 March 2012 the Committee received a private briefing on the Independent
Review of the Intelligence Community from Dr Margot McCarthy, National
Security Adviser and Mr Richard Sadleir, First Assistant Secretary, Defence and
Intelligence Division of the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet.
On 28 June 2012 the Committee received a private briefing from the
Attorney-General, the Hon Nicola Roxon MP in relation to the proposed terms of
reference for an inquiry into potential reforms of national security
legislation. As the inquiry had not commenced within this reporting period the
Committee’s conclusions will be reported in the Annual Report of Committee
The International Intelligence Review Agencies Conference 2012
Since 2002, the Committee has sent representatives to the biennial
conference of oversight agencies. In 2002 the conference was held in London,
in 2004, in Washington, in 2006, in South Africa, in 2008, in New Zealand and,
in 2010, the conference was hosted by the PJCIS and the IGIS in Sydney.
The 2012 conference was held in Ottawa, Canada between Sunday May 27 and
Wednesday May 30.
Attending on behalf of the PJCIS were:
- Mr Michael Danby MP
- Mr John Forrest MP
- Senator the
Honourable Ursula Stephens
- Senator Mark Bishop
The program was as follows:
Sunday May 27 2012
- 6:00 – 8:00 PM Welcome
Reception (Quebec Suite)
- Remarks by the
Honourable John Baird, Canadian Minister of Foreign Affairs
Monday May 28 2012
- 9:00 – 9:15 AM Welcome
and Introductory Remarks (Laurier Room)
Honourable Carol Skelton, Acting Chair, Security Intelligence Review Committee
Honourable Robert Décary, Q.C., Commissioner of the Communications Security
Pollak, Executive Director, SIRC
- 9:15 – 10:00 AM
SESSION ONE – Security Intelligence Review: The Canadian Experience (Laurier
- A panel
presentation by the host country on what has changed in the review environment
since Canada last hosted in 1999
The Honourable Carol Skelton, Acting Chair, SIRC 2
Susan Pollak, Executive Director, SIRC
Honourable Robert Décary, Q.C., Commissioner of the Communications Security
- 10:00 – 10:30 AM Health
- 10:30 – 12:00 PM
SESSION TWO – Country Summaries: Significant Developments (Laurier Room)
roundtable discussion on significant developments in the review/oversight
frameworks in selected jurisdictions
Theodor Koritzinsky, Norwegian Parliamentary Intelligence Oversight Committee
United Kingdom - Intelligence Policy Green Paper
- The Right
Honourable Sir Paul Kennedy, Interception of Communications Commissioner,
- The Right
Honourable Sir Malcolm Rifkind, Chair, Intelligence and Security Committee
Kalar, Head, Investigatory Powers Secretariat
– Update on Habib Inquiry
Thom, Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security
- Belgium –
Update on the Act on Special Intelligence Methods by the Intelligence and
Security Service (2010)
Rapaille, Chairman, Standing Intelligence Agencies Review Committee
Africa – Update on the Provision of Assurance with respect to Complaints
Adv Faith Radebe, Inspector-General of Intelligence
- 12:00 – 1:30 PM LUNCHEON
- 1:30 – 2:30 PM
SESSION THREE – Undertaking Effective Review/Oversight (Laurier Room)
- A panel
presentation by academics on ensuring effective review/oversight
Cecil Valentine Burgess, Chairman, South African Joint Standing Committee on
Dr. Jez Littlewood, Director, Canadian Centre of Intelligence and Security
Studies, Carleton University, Canada
Forcese, Vice Dean, Faculty of Law (Common Law Section)
of Ottawa, Canada
Roach, Faculty of Law, University of Toronto, Canada
- 2:30 – 3:00 PM Health
- 3:00 – 4:00 PM
SESSION THREE (continued): Plenary discussion/questions
Tuesday May 29 2012
- 9:00 – 10:30 AM SESSION
FOUR – Legal Developments in Review/Oversight (Laurier Room)
- A panel
presentation on the impact of recent jurisprudence, Commissions of Inquiry and
legislative changes on review/oversight
Sylvie Roussel, Senior Counsel, SIRC
The Honourable Simon Noël, Federal Court of Canada
Cameron, Special Advocate, Blake, Cassels and Graydon LLP 4
Duffy, Senior General Counsel, National Security Law, Justice Canada
- 10:30 – 10:45 AM Health
- 10:45 – 12:00 PM SESSION
FIVE: Media as a Form of Review/Oversight (Laurier Room)
- A panel
discussion on the media as a vehicle for accountability
The Right Honourable Sir Mark Waller, Intelligence Services Commissioner, UK
David Walmsley, Managing Editor, Globe and Mail
Shephard, Investigative Reporter, Toronto Star
- The Right
Honourable George Howarth, Intelligence and Security Committee, UK
- 12:00 – 1:15 PM
LUNCHEON – “Under the Lens: The Impact of Review”
The Honourable Frances Lankin, SIRC
Speaker: Jim Judd, Former Director of the Canadian Security Intelligence
- 1:15 – 1:45 PM
SESSION SIX – Engaging the Public on Review/Oversight (Laurier Room)
- A plenary
presentation followed by breakout sessions
The Honourable Robert Décary, Q.C.,
of the Communications Security Establishment
- Speaker: Senator
Hugh Segal, Chair, Special Senate Committee on Anti-terrorism 5
- 1:45 – 2:30 PM
Engaging Legislators (Laurier Room)
- Facilitator: John
Carey, Inspector General, Defence Intelligence Agency, USA
- 2 -
Engaging Academics (L’Orangerie Room)
- Facilitator: William
Galbraith, Executive Director, Office of the Communications Security Establishment
- 3 -
Engaging the Public (Palladian Room)
- Facilitator: The
Right Honourable Hazel Blears, Intelligence and Security Committee, UK
- 2:30 – 3:00 PM Health
- 3:00 – 4:00 PM SESSION
SIX (continued): Report back for plenary discussion (Laurier Room)
- 6:30 – 9:00 PM CONFERENCE
DINNER (with partners) (Quebec Suite)
The Honourable Frances Lankin, SIRC
Speaker: Mel Cappe, Professor in the School of Public Policy and Governance,
University of Toronto, Past president of the Canadian Institute for Research on
Public Policy, Former Clerk of the Privy Council
Wednesday May 30 2012
- 9:00 – 10:30 AM
SESSION SEVEN – Balancing National Security and Individual Rights (Laurier
- A panel
presentation looking at the interaction between government and civil society
Albert van Delden, Chair, Review Committee on the Intelligence and Security
Jake Blight, Assistant Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security,
Commissioner, Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada, George Ellard
General, National Security Agency/Central Security Service, USA
- 10:30 – 11:00 AM Health
- 11:00 – 11:30 AM
CONFERENCE WRAP-UP AND HAND-OFF TO THE UNITED KINGDOM FOR IIRAC 2014
- 11:30 – 12:30 PM LUNCHEON
The delegation found the IIRAC Conference invaluable and meetings with
like Committees of other jurisdictions in the host country were worthwhile.
These should continue to be organised around subsequent IIRAC Conferences.
Issues arising during the year
No issues of particular concern arose during 2010-11.
Support for the Committee
To fulfil its statutory and other obligations the Committee is reliant
on secretariat staff. In the reporting period the Committee was supported by
four full time parliamentary officers. This consisted of a secretary, an
inquiry secretary, a senior research officer and an office manager.
All staff are required under the Intelligence Services Act 2001
(Schedule 1 Part 3 section 21) to be cleared to the ‘level of staff members of
ASIS’ or a top secret positive security clearance (TSPV). Two staff were
cleared to this level. These staffing and clearance levels were sufficient for
the work of the Committee.
Other staff of the House of Representatives have been cleared to the
The Hon Anthony Byrne, MP