Australian Greens spokesperson for legal affairs Senator Penny Wright will today introduce a new Bill to increase the powers of the Independent National Security Legislation Monitor.
Earlier this year, the Abbott Government was defeated in its bid to scrap the Monitor - which plays a crucial role in assessing counter-terrorism laws - but the position remains vacant and unfunded.
"The position has been vacant since April, while bill after bill has been rushed through Parliament without proper scrutiny," Senator Wright said.
"These draconian national security laws affect how every Australian goes about their daily lives and undermine the rights and freedoms that sustain our democracy.
"My Bill will ensure there is independent, expert advice about Australia's counter-terrorism laws and that this advice can't be ignored."
Senator Wright's Private Senator's Bill to amend the Independent National Security Legislation Monitor Act will:
- give the Monitor powers to review proposed legislation, as well as existing, national security legislation;
- make it clear that the Monitor is required to consider whether Australia's national security legislation is a proportionate response to the national security threat faced;
- ensure that the position of Monitor is a full time position, cannot be left vacant and is supported by appropriate staff;
- allow the Australian Human Rights Commission and Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs to refer matters to the Monitor for inquiry; and
- ensure all reports are given due consideration by requiring all reports to be tabled in Parliament and that the Government responds to the recommendations within six months.
"In times of heightened security, civil liberties and human rights are more important than ever - and that is why we need an active and well-resourced Independent Monitor.
"The Australian Greens know it's important we can find and prosecute those who commit terrorist activities, but we do not accept that the rights and freedoms of Australians should be drastically eroded in the process."