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BILLS – Intelligence Services Amendment (Establishment of the Australian Signals Directorate) 2018 – Second Reading – 27 March 2018

Senator REYNOLDS (Western Australia) (13:57): As Chair of the Senate Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade Legislation Committee I too rise to speak on the Intelligence Services Amendment (Establishment of the Australian Signals Directorate) Bill 2018. There is no greater responsibility for any government and for any parliament than to ensure the safety and security of its people. This bill implements a key pillar of the Australian government’s reforms of our intelligence and national security landscape. These are the most significant reforms in decades. These include the establishment of a new Home Affairs portfolio, the creation of the Office of National Intelligence, and transforming the Australian Signals Directorate into a statutory agency.

On 7 November 2016 the Prime Minister announced an independent review of the Australian intelligence community. The timing of the review was consistent with the 2011 independent review of the intelligence community recommendation that periodic review occur every five years. On 18 July 2017 the Prime Minister released the unclassified version of the 2017 Independent Intelligence Review report. The review made 23 recommendations in relation to the structural, legislative and oversight architecture of the intelligence community, including the establishment of the Australian Signals Directorate, as I said, as an independent statutory agency within the Defence portfolio.

This bill implements the recommendations of the 2017 Independent Intelligence Review. ASD’s functions will be expanded to include the Australian Cyber Security Centre and allow the centre to cooperate with persons and bodies in the Intelligence Services Act 2001. ASD noted that in effect this will allow ASD to advise and assist business and the community directly, which is a long overdue and much-needed requirement in today’s intelligence environment. The bill will also enable the transfer of the Computer Emergency Response Team and its functions relating to cyber policy and security from the Attorney-General’s Department to ASD.

The PRESIDENT: Order, Senator Reynolds. It being 2 pm, the debate is interrupted. You’ll be in continuation when the debate resumes.

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