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Key developments

  • Australian Security Intelligence Organisation Amendment Bill 2020
  • Review of the Law Council’s Policy Statement on a Commonwealth Criminal Cases Review Commission
  • Mental Health and Cognitive Impairment Forensic Provisions Bill 2020
  • Inquiry into human rights of women and girls in the Pacific
  • Migration Amendment (Prohibiting Items in Immigration Detention Facilities) Bill 2020
  • Virtual hearing into the Anti-Discrimination Amendment (Complaints Handling) Bill 2020
  • Improving the infrastructure contribution system

Australian Security Intelligence Organisation Amendment Bill 2020 

The Public Law, Ethics, Children’s Legal Issues and Human Rights Committees contributed to a submission to the Law Council regarding the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security review of the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation Amendment Bill 2020 (‘the Bill’).

The Law Society raised concerns over several aspects of the Bill and objected to provisions in the Bill that would limit a person’s right to independent legal representation, and may impinge on a lawyer’s professional obligation to act in the best interests of his or her client. Other key concerns that the Law Society highlighted with the Bill include:

  • a lack of independent oversight of the powers contained in the Bill, and no express provision for judicial or merits review of the compulsory questioning powers;  
  • the expansion of the scope of the questioning powers from ‘terrorism’ matters to ‘politically motivated violence’, ‘espionage’ and ‘acts of foreign interference’. These new terms are either defined broadly or not at all; 
  • unreasonable abrogation of the privilege against self-incrimination; and
  • the extension of the questioning powers to cover children aged 14 and over, and the impact this may have on Australia’s compliance with the Convention on the Rights of the Child.

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