The government is abolishing the wrong security safeguard in getting rid of the Independent National Monitor, Civil Liberties Australia and the Australian Privacy Foundation say.
INSLM is wrong target
Prime Minister Abbott’s recent move to abolish the Independent National Security Legislation Monitor (INSLM) would see the end of an invaluable function in reporting on national security legislation.
This is the comment of the Australian Privacy Foundation in a media release, and it is endorsed by Civil Liberties Australia.
Attorney-General George Brandis is abolishing the INSLM position because he believes the security and police agencies of government are well supervised by existing oversight bodies, and by parliamentary committees.
However, CLA’s experience is that the oversight agencies and – particularly – the parliamentary committees have become “captive” to the security and police agencies.
Those agencies carefully cultivate their supposed overlords; the agencies have specific staff dedicated to “duchessing” those who allegedly sit in judgement on them; and the result is that the supposed supervisors identify more closely with the bosses and employees of the security and police agencies than they do with the Australian public.
The result is very sub-optimal overview: how well would you oversight your “best mates”?
The Australian Privacy Foundation puts it this way: If the government intend addressing the pointless proliferation of excess regulation, they should be attacking the array of draconian and wholly unnecessary counter-terrorism laws that have eroded basic rights, for which task the Monitor’s balanced and expert input would be invaluable.
The APF decries the failure of the current and preceding governments to respond to numerous sensible and moderate recommendations by the INSLM, Brett Walker SC (right).
The APF echoes his sentiment: “The functions of the INSLM go no further than review, report and recommend”. But when recommendations are ignored, “scepticism may start to take root about the political imperative to have the most effective and appropriate counter-terrorism laws”, which ultimately undermines the trust that is fundamental to civil society.
The APF and CLA believe the role of the INSLM should be strengthened rather than abolished. We join with the APF in congratulating Mr Walker for his cogent and independent analysis of the Australian national security apparatus (ANSA) in accord with the finest tradition of the Australian legal profession.