The Turnbull Government has introduced legislation to enable the most significant reforms to Australia’s domestic security arrangements in decades.
Earlier this year, the Prime Minister announced the Government would establish a Home Affairs portfolio of Australia’s security, law enforcement and criminal intelligence agencies, and strengthen the Attorney-General’s oversight of these institutions.
The Home Affairs portfolio is a direct response to the increasingly complex and challenging security environment facing our country.
Since 2014, our intelligence and law enforcement agencies have successfully disrupted 14 imminent terrorist attacks.
Our borders continue to be tested by people smugglers, and organised crime syndicates are increasingly sophisticated in their efforts to peddle drugs, commit fraud and engage in cyber-crime.
The Government is acting against these threats to keep Australians safe and secure.
The Government will soon start to implement the new Home Affairs portfolio, with the establishment of a Department of Home Affairs.
The Australian Border Force and key law enforcement agencies, the Australian Federal Police, the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission (ACIC) and the Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre (AUSTRAC), will transfer to the new portfolio.
The legislation, introduced today, will enable the inclusion of the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation into the Home Affairs portfolio once passed, while preserving the Attorney-General’s role in agreeing Ministerial Authorisations and warrants in respect of ASIO.
In addition, the legislation will transfer the Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security and the Independent National Security Legislation Monitor to the Attorney-General’s portfolio.
This change will reinforce the Attorney-General’s oversight of Australia’s domestic security, intelligence and law enforcement agencies.
The new Home Affairs portfolio will strengthen Australia’s efforts in the fight against the evolving threats from terrorism, organised crime, child exploitation, foreign interference and the development of new and emerging technologies, such as encryption.
The Home Affairs legislation complements legislative reforms to combat the threat of foreign interference, which the Government introduced earlier this week.