The Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security is appointed under section 28 of the Intelligence Services Act 2001 (the IS Act).
Section 29 of the IS Act provides that the functions of the Committee are to:
- review the administration and expenditure of the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO), Australian Secret Intelligence Service (ASIS), Australian Geospatial-Intelligence Organisation (AGO), Defence Intelligence Organisation (DIO), Australian Signals Directorate (ASD) and Office of National Assessments (ONA), including their annual financial statements.
- review any matter in relation to ASIO, ASIS, AGO, DIO, ASD or ONA referred to the Committee by the responsible Minister or a resolution of either House of the Parliament
- monitor and to review the performance by the Australian Federal Police (AFP) of its functions under Part 5.3 of the Criminal Code (terrorism)
- review, by 7 March 2018, the operation, effectiveness and implications of the following:
- Division 3 of Part III of the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation Act 1979 (ASIO questioning and detention powers)
- Division 3A of Part IAA of the Crimes Act 1914 (police powers in relation to terrorist acts and terrorism offences)
- Division 104 and 105 of the Criminal Code (control orders and preventative detention orders)
- sections 119.2 and 119.3 of the Criminal Code ("declared area" provisions)
- review, by 13 April 2020, the mandatory data retention regime, as provided for under section 187N of the Telecommunications (Interception and Access) Act 1979
- review–for the sole purpose of assessing and making recommendations on the overall operation and effectiveness of the mandatory data retention regime–any matter that relates to the retained data activities of ASIO and is included in ASIO's annual report
- review–for the sole purpose of assessing and making recommendations on the overall operation and effectiveness of the mandatory data retention regime–any matter that relates to the retained data activities of the AFP in relation to offences against Part 5.3 of the Criminal Code (terrorism) and is set out in the AFP's annual report on access to telecommunications data
- review, by 1 December 2019, the operation, effectiveness and implications of sections 33AA, 35, 35AA and 35A of the Australian Citizenship Act 2007 (regarding the cessation of Australian citizenship) and any other provision of that Act as far as it relates to those sections; and
- report the Committee's comments and recommendations to each House of the Parliament and to the responsible Minister.
Under section 102.1A of the Criminal Code, the Committee may also review any regulations made for the listing (or re-listing) of a "terrorist organisation" and report the Committee's comments and recommendations to each House of the Parliament before the end of the applicable disallowance period–a period of 15 sitting days after the regulation was laid before that House.
Further, the Committee may review and report on the declaration of any terrorist organisation for the purposes of section 35AA of the Australian Citizenship Act 2007.
The Committee is otherwise 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 of the IS Act requires 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, AGO, DIO, ASD or ONA;
- reviewing the sources of information, other operational assistance or operational methods available to ASIO, ASIS, AGO, DIO, ASD or ONA;
- reviewing particular operations that have been, are being or are proposed to be undertaken by ASIO, ASIS, AGO, DIO or ASD;
- 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, AGO, DIO, ASD 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, AGO, DIO, ASD 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
- reviewing the coordination and evaluation activities undertaken by ONA
- reviewing sensitive operational information or operational methods available to the AFP; or
- reviewing particular operations or investigations that have been, are being or are proposed to be undertaken by the AFP.