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LEGAL AND CONSTITUTIONAL AFFAIRS LEGISLATION COMMITTEE - 16/04/2010 - Anti-People Smuggling and Other Measures Bill 2010

Estimates & Committees
Sarah Hanson-Young 16 Apr 2010

Senator Hanson-Young -Mr Connolly, when you outlined your major concerns in your opening statement at the beginning, you mentioned that part of the problem was that people have not been able to participate in discussing whether this is a change to the types of roles that ASIO currently have, and you referenced how extensive the debates have been. Has your organisation been consulted at all by the government departments in terms of putting this legislation together, or is this the first time you have had an opportunity to feed back?

Mr Connolly -This is the first opportunity that the Australian Privacy Foundation has had to provide feedback. I cannot speak for other civil liberties organisations that have a broader remit.

Senator Hanson-Young -If you were to be able to suggest what it is that should happen in terms of being able to have a more extensive look, are you suggesting that this legislation would not go to parliament as yet, that you would want a more extensive inquiry? What were those comments directed to?

Mr Connolly -I was certainly surprised when I received the draft of the Anti-People Smuggling and Other Measures Bill to see that, right at the end-very briefly, in a couple of lines-it expanded ASIO's powers to include border security. I think that a more appropriate process for a change of that nature is to call for submissions from the public in response to a discussion paper which set out the pros and cons of expanding ASIO's role. A wide range of individuals and organisations might have views on that. There are a number of experts who monitored the activities of ASIO over the years. There are quite a lot of non-government organisations that have an interest in ASIO's powers. As I said, when some fairly minor changes to ASIO's powers were suggested to beef up security for the Sydney Olympics, there was actually quite a heated and lengthy debate with multiple consultations and a hearing of a different Senate committee.

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