What do these amendments do?
The amendment, although it has 30 parts, is to a single effect, which is to reinstate what we've called the 'Howard safeguard'. In other words, it would ensure that, with the consent of the Attorney-General, questioning warrants could only be issued by an independent issuing authority. Parliamentary counsel has seen it as necessary to develop a quite intricate set of amendments, but they only do the one thing: they put back an issuing authority, who will be a judge, and set up a process where the Director-General of Security, the head of ASIO, seeks the Attorney-General's consent and the Attorney-General then goes to the issuing authority for a warrant to be issued.
What does this bill do?
According to the bills digest:
The purpose of the Bill is to amend the Act to replace the existing framework for questioning warrants and questioning and detention warrants with a revised questioning warrant framework, make related changes to the Act and other legislation, and amend provisions in the Act relating to the use of surveillance devices.
- expanding the purposes of questioning from terrorism offences to politically motivated violence, espionage and foreign interference
- lowering the minimum age for the subject of a warrant from 16 to 14 years of age
- having the Attorney-General issue warrants directly in place of an issuing authority
- allowing for requests for warrants to be made, and warrants to be issued, orally in some circumstances
- creating a new framework to allow the use of certain tracking devices by ASIO with internal authorisation from higher level officers (currently the use of such devices requires a warrant)