Australian Greens Senator Lee Rhiannon has backed the Australia Day call by Civil Liberties Australia for a new inquiry into the impact ten years of counter-terrorism measures have had on lives and liberties of Australians. This follows the release yesterday of the Independent Review of the Intelligence Community.
“When parliament resumes in two weeks I will move to establish an independent inquiry into the impact of Australia’s anti-terror measures,” Senator Rhiannon said.
“The report into Australia’s intelligence agencies, released yesterday, does not inspire confidence that our intelligence agencies are being held to account.
"After sitting on the Prime Minister's desk for six months, the report is completely lacking in substance. No recommendations have been made public, nor has any government response to these recommendations.
“Considering the threat status in Australia has remained the same since the September 2001 attacks, Australians have a right know why there has been such a massive increase in funds for intelligence agencies and what these multi-million dollar budgets are being spent on.
“The Independent Review of the Intelligence Community failed to do this. It has barely fulfilled the objectives under which it was established.
“The review came out of 2004 Flood inquiry into Australia's intelligence community. In setting out the need for periodic reviews Mr Phillip Flood noted that ‘Australians are entitled to expect that intelligence collection agencies are properly scrutinised and held to account’.
”The current government review has failed to fulfil these objectives.
“The heads of the agencies operate with minimal accountability and there is the worrying possibility that they and their staff may at times operate outside the law. Any review should be able to explore these issues.
“The issue of accuracy of these agencies was barely covered in the review. Considering Civil Liberties Australia (CLA) estimates that about 25 per cent of the ASIO data collected on CLA members and released under the 30-year rule was in error this is a serious omission.
“Prime Minister Julia Gillard stated at the CHOGM meeting held last year that ‘We shouldn’t allow terrorism to drive us “to live differently, or with less democracy, or less freedom than we had initially”.
“The Greens congratulate Civil Liberties Australia for their initiative in calling on the Prime Minister to set up an inquiry that would help ensure our way of life is not reduced as we respond to terrorism,” Senator Rhiannon said.