Dec 3rd 2020

Parliament must push for protections for citizens and journalists in draconic ASIO bill

Following the release of the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security's report on The Australian Security Intelligence Organisation Amendment Bill 2020 this afternoon, it's more important than ever that Parliament hold Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton's latest power grab up to the full light of scrutiny, instead of rushing to pass yet another draconian security bill.

On Tuesday, Greens Senator Lidia Thorpe and independent MP Andrew Wilkie formally received a 115,000-signature strong GetUp petition on the Parliament House lawns calling on Parliament to oppose Minister Dutton's latest bill to expand ASIO's powers and turn Australia into a surveillance state.

As it stands, this bill needs major amendments to protect the rights of journalists, whistleblowers and ordinary citizens. Ramming it through Parliament's final sitting week, with no time to examine its ramifications, would be a travesty of due parliamentary process and contempt of our democracy.

GetUp Campaigner Chandi Bates said:

“Today Parliament’s notoriously secret committee on intelligence has signed, sealed and delivered sweeping new powers for ASIO to track, surveil and question citizens.

"These laws are still a serious assault on our democracy and our civil liberties - they still allow kids as young as 14 to be interrogated and guarantee more power and less accountability for Peter Dutton and his spy agency ASIO.

“This committee has done nothing to address concerns that these laws would have a chilling effect on journalists breaking politically significant stories, and intimidate brave whistleblowers from speaking out.

“We know that war crimes and military wrongdoings would never have been exposed without the actions of brave whistleblowers and determined journalists committed to truth-telling. But instead of doing more to protect whistleblowers and journalism, the Morrison Government is pressing ahead with these laws that could see journalists jailed for refusing to give up their confidential sources.

“We cannot let these laws be rammed through in the haste of Parliament’s final sitting week. These are serious powers that need serious scrutiny in the Senate.”

Media Contact:  Alex McKinnon - 0411 829 334


Chandi Bates, GetUp Campaigner

Images available on request.