Senator Patrick explained that:
These amendments will amend the Intelligence Services Act 2001 to extend parliamentary scrutiny to the operation of Australia's national security and intelligence agencies. ... Centre Alliance considers it imperative to improve parliamentary oversight of Australia's intelligence agencies as they face greater challenges and are given more resources and powers to intrude into the lives of Australian citizens. Australia's 10 national security and intelligence agencies employ more than 7,000 people and spend well over $2 billion per annum while they accumulate massive amounts of data at home and abroad. As the intelligence agencies have expanded, the mechanisms of accountability and review have received much less attention and fewer resources.
What does this bill do?
The bills digest explains that:
On 18 July 2017, the Prime Minister announced that the Government would establish a Home Affairs portfolio that will bring together Australia’s immigration, border protection, law enforcement and domestic security agencies in a single portfolio. Australian governments had previously considered but rejected the establishment of something similar to the US Department of Homeland Security or the UK Home Office on several occasions since the early 2000s. The new portfolio will be ‘modelled loosely’ on the UK’s arrangements, comprising a central department responsible for policy and strategic planning and several agencies that will retain their statutory independence.