Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security - 2005 to present
On 2 December 2005, following the passage of the Intelligence Services Legislation Amendment Act 2005, the Committee was re-established as the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security (PJCIS).
The Committee now included the Defence Imagery and Geospatial Organisation (DIGO, since renamed Australian Geospatial-Intelligence Organisation), the Defence Intelligence Organisation (DIO) and the Office of National Assessments (since renamed the Office of National Intelligence ONI) in its oversight role, in addition to ASIO, ASIS and ASD. This change was in response to recommendations of the Inquiry into Australian Intelligence Agencies by Mr Philip Flood AO (the "Flood Inquiry").
During the remainder of the 41st Parliament, the PJCIS conducted a review of four pieces of terrorist-related legislation, as mandated under the IS Act, informed by input from an Independent Security Legislation Review Committee chaired by the Hon Simon Sheller AO QC (the "Sheller Committee"). Amongst other recommendations coming out of its review, the PJCIS recommended the appointment of an independent reviewer of terrorism law in Australia. This recommendation was accepted by the Government and implemented through the appointment of the first Independent National Security Legislation Monitor (INSLM) in 2011. As required under the IS Act, the PJCIS also conducted an inquiry during the 41st Parliament into the proscription of terrorist organisations under the Criminal Code.
During the 42nd and 43rd Parliaments, the PJCIS continued to review terrorist organisation listings (and re-listings), conduct annual reviews of the administration and expenditure of the six agencies under its remit, receive private briefings, conduct site inspections and produce annual reports of its activities. In the 43rd Parliament, the Committee additionally conducted an inquiry into a wide range of "potential reforms" to Australia's national security legislation referred by the Attorney-General.
44th Parliament (2013-2016)
The PJCIS's work during the 44th Parliament was characterised by reviews of a series of significant pieces of national security legislation, which included implementation of many of the proposals reviewed in the Committee's inquiry into "potential reforms". The following bills were reviewed by the Committee:
The PJCIS's own role and functions have been extended as a result of recommendations made during these Bill inquiries being adopted. New responsibilities included:
- reviewing proscription under the Criminal Code of 'declared areas' in overseas countries;
- monitoring and reviewing the performance of the Australian Federal Police's (AFP) counter-terrorism functions under Part 5.3 of the Criminal Code;
- reviewing any matters in relation to the retained data activities of the AFP and ASIO set out in their annual reports on the mandatory data retention regime, including (for the first time) reviewing particular operations;
- reviewing any bills in relation to the mandatory data retention regime that;
- amend the data set required to be retained;
- amend the organisations required to retain data;
- amend the organisations authorised to access retained data;
- being notified of certain declarations made in relation to the data retention regime and any Journalist Information Warrants that are issued;
- being provided with any reports produced by the IGIS or the Commonwealth Ombudsman in relation to data retention;
- being notified by the IGIS of any emergency ministerial authorisations given to intelligence agencies under the IS Act;
- reviewing the declaration of any terrorist organisation for the purposes of section 35AA of the Australian Citizenship Act 2007;
- being notified of and briefed on instances where a person's citizenship is lost under sections 33AA, 35 or 35A of the Australian Citizenship Act 2007.
45th Parliament (2016-2019)
The Committee continued to review national security legislation throughout the 45th Parliament and supported the passage of bills which reconfigured the Australian intelligence community, modernised the storage and access of telecommunications data and introduced a national register for persons acting on behalf of foreign principals, including:
The Committee also completed statutory reviews of existing legislation in relation to ASIO's questioning and detention powers; police stop, search and seizure powers; the control order regime; the preventative detention order regime; and the 'declared area' provisions.
The adoption of recommendations made by PJCIS during these reviews further expanded the Committee's role and functions to include additional responsibilities, such as:
- being notified of the making of any preventative detention orders or prohibited contact orders under Division 105 of the Criminal Code;
- reviewing any changes to rules relating to the authorisation of the Secretary of the Attorney-General's Department to communicate information about the Foreign Influence Transparency Scheme;
- reviewing and reporting to Parliament on any area 'declared' under section 119.3 of the Criminal Code at any time prior to the declaration's revocation or cessation; and
- monitoring and reviewing the performance of the AFP's stop, search and seizure powers under Division 3A of Part IAA of the Crimes Act 1914, and the basis of any Ministerial declaration of a 'proscribed security zone' under the provisions.
The Committee was also required under the Intelligence Services Act 2001 and other Acts to conduct additional statutory reviews in future Parliaments of certain pieces of existing national security legislation (see Role of the Committee for details).
The PJCIS concluded the 45th Parliament by exercising its powers under Section 7A of the Independent National Security Legislation Monitor Act 2010, to refer a matter for inquiry and report to the Independent National Security Legislation Monitor (INSLM). The Committee's referral of the Telecommunications and Other Legislation Amendment (Assistance and Access) Act 2018 to the INSLM in March 2019 was the first such referral in the Committee's history.
In 2017, the Independent Intelligence Review conducted by Mr Michael L'Estrange AO and Mr Stephen Merchant PSM made several recommendations regarding the future role of the Committee. These included amendments to legislation to:
- expand the Committee's oversight role to apply to all ten agencies of the National Intelligence Community (NIC), with oversight of the AFP, the Department of Immigration and Border Protection, and the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission limited to their intelligence functions;
- enable the Committee to request the IGIS to conduct an inquiry into the legality and propriety of particular operational activities of the NIC agencies, and to provide a report to the Committee, Prime Minister and the responsible Minister;
- enable the Committee to review proposed reforms to counter-terrorism and national security legislation, and to review all such expiring legislation;
- allow the Committee to initiate its own inquiries into the administration and expenditure of the ten intelligence agencies of the NIC as well as proposed or existing provisions in counter-terrorism and national security law, and to review all such expiring legislation;
- enable the Committee to request a briefing from the INSLM, to ask the INSLM to provide the Committee with the outcome of their inquiries into existing legislation at the same time as the INSLM provides such reports to the responsible Minister; and
- require the Committee to be regularly briefed by the Director-General of ONI, and separately by the IGIS.
46th Parliament (2019 - )
The Committee has continued to undertake its statutory role of reviewing the administration and expenditure of National Intelligence Community agencies, reviewing the listing and re-listing of terrorist organisations under the Criminal Code, as well as statutory reviews of existing national security and intelligence powers, and reviewing national security legislation referred to it during the Parliament. A full list of completed inquiries can be found here, and ongoing inquiries are listed on the Committee's homepage.
Additionally, the Committee has also been referred three policy inquiries this Parliament:
- Inquiry into the impact of the exercise of law enforcement and intelligence powers on the freedom of the press: report tabled 26 August 2020;
- Inquiry into national security risks affecting the Australian higher education and research sector - inquiry ongoing referred 2 November 2020 ; and
- Inquiry into extremist movements and radicalism in Australia – inquiry ongoing referred 9 December 2020.
Report of the Comprehensive Review of the Legal Framework of the National Intelligence Community
In December 2020 the review of the legal framework governing the National Intelligence Community to be undertaken by Mr Dennis Richardson AC (the Richardson Review) made several recommendations regarding the future role of the Committee. These included amendments to legislation to:
- Enable the PJCIS to request the IGIS to conduct an inquiry into the legality and propriety of particular operational activities, and report to the PJCIS, Prime Minister and responsible minister;
- Enable the PJCIS to make such a request should make it clear that the PJCIS can only request, not oblige, the IGIS to conduct an inquiry;
- Existing restrictions that apply to information disclosure by the PJCIS should continue to apply in respect of the IGIS’ reports or briefings to the PJCIS on its inquiries;
- Amend the Intelligence Services Act so that the PJCIS is only limited to not reviewing agency compliance with agency privacy rules, leaving scope for it to review the rules as made;
- Enable the PJCIS to receive a briefing from agencies on the development of their artificial intelligence-based intelligence capabilities at least once per year; and
- Insert a regulation-making power into the definition of ‘prescribed administrative action’ in the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation Act. The regulation making power should allow regulations to add an action to the definition of ‘prescribed administrative action’ where that action has potential to affect an individual’s liberty or livelihood. Matters relating to security would be a key consideration in taking that action.
- Regulations made under the regulation making power should be reviewed by the PJCIS before the end of the applicable disallowance period in each Chamber prior to coming into effect.