The Parliamentary Joint
Committee on ASIO (the ASIO Committee) was re-established in the 39th Parliament
on 18 February 1999.
Role of the ASIO Committee
The ASIO Committee is appointed under Part VA of the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation Act 1979 (the ASIO Act).
Section 92C of the ASIO Act describes the functions of the Committee as being to:
(a) review aspects of
the activities of ASIO referred to the Committee by the Attorney-General,
the Senate or the House of Representatives; and
(b) report its findings to the Attorney-General and, subject to the Attorney-General's approval, to Parliament.
The ASIO Act limits the inquiry powers of the Committee by providing that the Committee may not:
History of the ASIO Committee
The Parliament first appointed an ASIO Committee on 31 August 1988 (during the 35th Parliament. The Committee commenced, but did not complete, an inquiry into the effect on ASIO of the access provisions of the Archives Act.
The second ASIO Committee was appointed in the 36th Parliament and completed the inquiry into the operation of the access provisions of the Archives Act with the tabling of a report (ASIO and the Archives Act) in April 1992. The Committee also commenced, but did not complete an inquiry into ASIO’s security assessment procedures.
The ASIO Committee was reconstituted in the 37th Parliament and completed the inquiry into ASIO’s security assessment procedures with the tabling of a report (ASIO and Security Assessment) in March 1994. The Committee also began an inquiry into cost recovery practices and ASIO. The inquiry lapsed upon the dissolution of the 37th Parliament.
The ASIO Committee was reconstituted in the 38th Parliament and resolved to take a new approach to its activities. Instead of conducting inquiries, the Committee developed further the practice adopted in earlier Parliaments of seeking regular, informal briefings from the Director-General of ASIO and the Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security.
During the 38th Parliament the Committee received briefings on various subjects, including: