Bosses deny se­cret spy plan

Sunday Herald Sun - - News - AN­NIKA SMETHURST

OF­FI­CIALS from De­fence and Home Af­fairs spent weeks in­ves­ti­gat­ing sce­nar­ios where Aus­tralia’s cy­ber spy agency could thwart on­shore threats.

De­part­ment bosses have claimed there was “no pro­posal to in­crease the ASD’s (Aus­tralian Sig­nals Directorate’s) pow­ers to col­lect in­tel­li­gence on Aus­tralians” af­ter the Sun­day Her­ald Sun last week re­vealed the se­cret plan.

But let­ters be­tween the Home Af­fairs Sec­re­tary Mike Pez­zullo and De­fence Sec­re­tary Greg Mo­ri­arty re­veal the de­part­ments of Home Af­fairs and De­fence al­lo­cated staff to war game a raft of sce­nar­ios where the ASD would need leg­isla­tive changes to in­ves­ti­gate Aus­tralians.

The list of sce­nar­ios was com­piled in two at­tach­ments and sent to the heads of both de­part­ments un­der the head­line “sce­nar­ios pro­posed by Home Af­fairs”. The doc­u­ment ex­plains how ASD could be used to dis­rupt “on­shore and off­shore on­line threats” such as “dis­rupt­ing child ex­ploita­tion net­works and ter­ror­ist net­works” and “il­licit drug im­por­ta­tion, money laun­der­ing and se­ri­ous crimes”.

Last week’s reve­la­tions that se­nior de­part­ment bosses dis­cussed a plan to ex­pand the pow­ers of Aus­tralia’s cy­ber spies agency has prompted calls for MPs to have a greater over­sight of Aus­tralia’s in­tel­li­gence agen­cies.

Se­na­tor Rex Pa­trick will move amend­ments to Aus­tralia’s na­tional se­cu­rity laws in the Se­nate this week so that the op­er­a­tional ac­tiv­i­ties and the meth­ods used by spy agen­cies can be re­viewed by a par­lia­men­tary com­mit­tee.

Se­na­tor Pa­trick said al­low­ing mem­bers of the Par­lia­men­tary Joint Com­mit­tee on In­tel­li­gence and Se­cu­rity (PJCIS) — of which he is not a mem­ber — to ex­am­ine pro­posed op­er­a­tions would bring Aus­tralia in to line with the US and Canada.

“Greater par­lia­men­tary scru­tiny is long over­due,” Se­na­tor Pa­trick said.

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