Committee establishment, role and history
Role of the Intelligence and Security Committee
The Committee is appointed under section 28 of the Intelligence Services Act 2001 (the IS Act).
Section 29 of the IS Act states that the functions of the Committee are to:
- review the administration and expenditure of the ASIO, ASIS, DIGO, DIO, DSD and ONA including the annual financial statements of ASIO, ASIS, DIGO, DIO, DSD and ONA;
- review any matter in relation to ASIO, ASIS, DIGO, DIO, DSD or ONA referred to the Committee by the responsible Minister or a resolution of either House of the Parliament;
- review, as soon as possible after the third anniversary of the day on which the Security Legislation Amendment (Terrorism) Act 2002 receives the Royal Assent, the operation, effectiveness and implications of amendments made by that Act and the following Acts - The Border Security Legislation Amendgment Act 2002, The Criminal Code Amendment (Suppression of Terrorist Bombings) Act 2002 and The Suppression of the Financing of Terrorism Act 2002;
- review, by 22 January 2016, the operation, effectiveness and implications of Division 3 of Part III of the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation Act 1979; and
- report the Committee's comments and recommendations to each House of the Parliament and to the responsible Minister.
The Committee is not authorised to initiate its own references, but may resolve to request the responsible Minister refer a particular matter to it for review.
Section 31 provides for the Committee to prepare and table an Annual Report as soon as practicable after each year ending 30 June.
The IS Act limits the inquiry powers of the Committee by providing that the functions of the Committee do not include:
- reviewing the intelligence gathering and assessment priorities of ASIO, ASIS, DIGO, DIO, DSD or ONA;
- reviewing the sources of information, other operational assistance or operational methods available to ASIO, ASIS, DIGO, DIO, DSD or ONA;
- reviewing particular operations that have been, are being or are proposed to be undertaken by ASIO, ASIS, DIGO, DIO or DSD;
- reviewing information provided by, or by an agency of, a foreign government where that government does not consent to the disclosure of the information;
- reviewing an aspect of the activities of ASIO, ASIS, DIGO, DIO, DSD or ONA that does not affect an Australian person;
- reviewing the rules made under section 15 of the Act (to protect privacy of Australians);
- conducting inquiries into individual complaints about the activities of ASIO, ASIS, DIGO, DIO, DSD or ONA;
- reviewing the content of, or conclusions reached in, assessments or reports made by DIO or ONA, or reviewing sources of information on which such assessments or reports are based; or
- reviewing the coordination and evaluation activities undertaken by ONA.
History of the Intelligence and Security Committee
The Parliament first appointed a Parliamentary Committee on ASIO, ASIS and DSD (PJCAAD) in March 2002 during the 40th Parliament. The PJCAAD replaced the former Parliamentary Joint Committee on ASIO which was provided for under the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation Act 1979. The Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intellience and Security was established under that name on 2 December 2005 upon recommendations from the "Flood Report". The Committee included DIGO, DIO and ONA in its oversight role which already included ASIO, ASIS and DSD.
The former ASIO Committee was first appointed in August 1988 during the 35th Parliament. The Committee commenced, but did not complete,
an inquiry into the effect on ASIO of the access provisions of the Archives
The second ASIO Committee was appointed in the 36th Parliament
and completed the inquiry into the operation of the access provisions
of the Archives Act with the tabling of a report (ASIO and the Archives
Act) in April 1992. The Committee also commenced, but did not complete
an inquiry into ASIOs security assessment procedures.
The ASIO Committee was reconstituted in the 37th Parliament
and completed the inquiry into ASIOs security assessment procedures with
the tabling of a report (ASIO and Security Assessment) in March
1994. The Committee also began an inquiry into cost recovery practices
and ASIO. The inquiry lapsed upon the dissolution of the 37th
The ASIO Committee was reconstituted in the 38th Parliament
and resolved to take a new approach to its activities. Instead of conducting
inquiries, the Committee developed further the practice adopted in earlier
Parliaments of seeking regular, informal briefings from the Director-General
of ASIO and the Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security.
During the 38th Parliament the Committee received briefings
on various subjects, including:
- security precautions and counter-terrorism arrangements being planned
in preparation for the Sydney 2000 Olympics;
- ASIOs role in monitoring the national security implications of the
crisis in the Persian Gulf;
- corporate restructuring in ASIO;
- ASIOs data collection and retention safeguards, and procedures for
accessing archived ASIO material; and
- proposed amendments to the ASIO Act.
For further information on the work of the Intelligence and Security Committee contact the
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