Australia loses more freedom – Boost in ASIO powers set for rubber stamp – WA Senator warns

Boost in ASIO powers set for rubber stamp – WA Senator warns

Media Release: Senator Scott Ludlam Thursday June 16th

The Australian Greens have raised concerns about the lack of scrutiny of a Government bid to expand the powers of ASIO.

The Intelligence Services Legislation Amendment Bill 2011 was subject to a 90-minute inquiry in the Legal and Constitutional Affairs Senate Committee today – so that the committee can report back three months earlier than originally scheduled – without any ASIO representatives present to answer questions.

The Greens legal affairs spokesperson, Senator for Western Australia Scott Ludlam, said the bill merited far greater examination, but now expected the Government to rush it through the Parliament next week.

“You would hope that the agency requesting these proposed increases in power would be available to answer questions about the legislation,” he said. “The Government wants to dramatically expand the range of people and organisations on which ASIO can collect intelligence. In the hearing today the Government was unable to give satisfactory answers on the practical implications of ASIO’s expanded mandate.

“These new powers can be exercised if it is deemed to be in the interest of national security or ‘national economic well being’ – which is incredibly broad.

“If ASIO is to be given the power to essentially carry out commercial espionage on behalf of Australian companies, then the Government needs to make a compelling case for that.”

Media Contact: Giovanni Torre – 0417 174 302

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