House of Representatives Speech-Independent National Security Legislation Monitor Annual Report 2012, Council of Australian Governments Review of Counterterrorism Legislation

The first review I am tabling is the annual report of the Independent National Security Legislation Monitor for 2012. The monitor's role is created by legislation, to review Australia's national security laws and counterterrorism laws on an ongoing basis and determine whether they remain necessary, effective, proportionate and consistent with our international human rights obligations.

I am pleased today to be able to table two very important reviews on Australia's counterterrorism legislation.

The first review I am tabling is the annual report of the Independent National Security Legislation Monitor for 2012. The monitor's role is created by legislation, to review Australia's national security laws and counterterrorism laws on an ongoing basis and determine whether they remain necessary, effective, proportionate and consistent with our international human rights obligations.

In his 2012 report the monitor, Mr Bret Walker SC, examined the definition of a terrorist act, the control order provisions, the preventative detention order regime and ASIO's questioning and detention powers. I thank Mr Walker for the extensive work he has done in compiling this report.

The second review is the Council of Australian Governments review into counterterrorism legislation. In 2005, COAG considered the evolving security environment in the context of the terrorist assaults in London that year and agreed that there was a clear case for strengthening Australia's counterterrorism laws. The Commonwealth government and the states and territories then enacted legislation to better deter and prevent potential acts of terrorism and prosecute them if they occurred. The legislation included control orders, preventative detention orders and certain emergency stop, question and search powers held by police. COAG agreed that they would review the necessity and effectiveness of the new laws after a period of time.

The COAG review committee consisted of six members, including the chair, the Hon. Anthony Whealy QC, a retired judge from the New South Wales Court of Appeal, as well as two accountability members, two law enforcement members and a prosecutorial member. Two of those members were from Commonwealth agencies, the remaining four represented the states and territories. The COAG review committee made 47 recommendations. I thank the review committee, and especially the chair of the committee, the Hon. Anthony Whealy, for the hard work and time they have put into this review.

Both reviews are very thorough and thought provoking. There is some overlap of the provisions that the monitor and the COAG review committee reviewed. However, the monitor only reviewed Commonwealth legislation whereas the COAG review committee reviewed Commonwealth as well as complementary state and territory legislation. With two such detailed reports from two different review processes it is inevitable that there will be differences of perspectives and indeed that is a value of having the two separate processes. These reviews enable governments to better assess the different options available to serve the Australian people. The government values both these reports and serious consideration will be given to them. Given the overlap in recommendations of the reports, the government will be considering both reports together, after consulting with the states and territories.

These reviews were both undertaken as part of the government's commitment to protect Australia, its people and its interests, while instilling confidence that our national security and counterterrorism laws will be administered in a just and accountable way. While these matters are not easily resolved, the matter foremost in my mind is ensuring the security and the freedom of the Australian people. In light of the recent terror attack in Boston, it is clear that it is as important now as it ever was to maintain strong capabilities in the fight against terrorism. Our counterterrorism framework has held us in good stead so far, but we cannot afford to stop being vigilant.

Both reviews will be available online later this afternoon. Mr Deputy Speaker, I present the COAG Review of counter-terrorism legislation and the annual report of the Independent National Security Legislation Monitor and a copy of my ministerial statement. I ask leave of the House to move a motion to enable the member for Stirling to speak for four minutes.