Open letter to the PJCIS

Below is an open letter sent today to the Secretary of the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security (PJCIS) requesting an extension of time to submit on the National Security Legislation Amendment Bill (No 1) 2014. The Attorney-General has proposed the new legislation based on earlier recommendations of the PJCIS which were made in 2013. It is an extensive bill, as the letter explains, and deviates from the 2012 recommendations significantly in some places. The Pirate Party has requested a two week extension for all submissions given the enormity of both the bill and its explanatory memorandum. The outcome of this request will be published here once an answer is received.

UPDATE: An extension has been granted to all persons and organisations intending to make a submission. The new date is 6 August 2014 (shorter than the two week extension requested) according to a media release issued on 29 July 2014 by the Committee.

Dear Secretary of the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security,

Pirate Party Australia believes in considered, deliberative and consultative policy development. Our internal procedures are perfectly in line with these ideals, and our policy development is open to all members, and even interested outsiders. Our policies, as they are developed, are open for discussion typically for months before they are considered to be enacted.

It is with this in mind that we are disheartened by the extreme swiftness with which some very serious legislation that potentially affects all Australians is being rushed through the review process.

The time given to respond to the National Security Legislation Amendment Bill (No 1) 2014 is insufficient given the serious and substantial nature of the proposed amendments. It was referred to the Committee on 16 July 2014, with a deadline of 1 August 2014 for submissions on a bill that is 124 pages in length accompanied by an explanatory memorandum of 167 pages.

Although based on prior recommendations the Committee made in its 2013 Inquiry into potential reforms of National Security Legislation, the bill exceeds those recommendations significantly in places. More time is necessary to sufficiently analyse and put forward a measured and reasonable position on these matters.

For example, in a densely worded change to section 18(2) of the Australian Security Intelligence Act 1979, there is a small amendment that could result in far-reaching implications for how far political communication would be restricted.

Without adequate time to analyse all the elements of this extremely long and dense documentation, and to formulate coherent feedback, the process of consultation that is being undertaken would be ineffective, and would result in the process being seen to be a mockery.

We request that, at the very least, a further fourteen (14) days are granted to all persons and organisations who intend to submit to this committee. To not allow this would be an affront to democracy.


Mozart Olbrycht-Palmer
Deputy Secretary
Pirate Party Australia