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Boost in ASIO powers set for rubber stamp

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.

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On some days, budget estimates committees feel broken. Picture this. A handful of opposition Senators who still haven't come to terms with being in opposition decide to tie up the committee on some faint hope of uncovering a scandal or shopping a 'gotcha' moment to the channel-hopping press gallery. These painfully banal cross-examinations can go on for hours. And. Hours.

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Office of the Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security

Finance and Public Administration Committee Tuesday 24 May 2011

CHAIR: Senator Ludlam.

Senator LUDLAM: Right before Christmas last year, I think it was on 23 December, the government rather quietly announced the terms of reference for an independent review of the intelligence community, the same agencies that you oversee. I do not believe your officers are mentioned specifically in the terms of reference, but can you tell us whether you are formally or informally linked to that undertaking?

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