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Australia: Bill Establishing Independent National Security Legislation Monitor Passed

(Mar. 24, 2010) The Independent National Security Legislation Monitor Bill 2010 was passed by the Australian Parliament on March 18, 2010. The bill establishes a new position of National Security Legislation Monitor, with responsibility for reviewing and reporting on the “operation, effectiveness and implications of Australia's counter-terrorism and national security legislation on an ongoing basis,” and for considering if these laws “remain necessary and are proportionate to any threat of terrorism or to national security.” (Joint Press Release, Hon. Robert McClelland & Senator Joe Ludwig, Australia to Establish Independent National Security Legislation Monitor (Mar. 18, 2010), available at
.) A key focus of the Monitor will be whether the relevant laws contain appropriate safeguards for protecting human rights and are consistent with Australia's international obligations. (Id.)

The bill requires the Monitor to review counter-terrorism and national security legislation annually and report his or her findings to the Prime Minister and the Parliament. (Press Release, Senator Joe Ludwig, Senate Passes Bill to Establish National Security Monitor (Feb. 2, 2010), available at The Monitor will also be able to initiate investigations, or the Prime Minister may refer a matter to the Monitor for review. One person will be appointed to the position, and he or she will be independent from the current administration. (Joint Press Release, supra.)

The bill follows recommendations made by the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security, as well as those of the Inquiry into the Case of Dr. Mohamed Haneef and the 2006 Sheller Committee. (Joint Press Release, supra.) The Senate Finance and Public Administration Committee examined the bill in detail as part of its passage through Parliament. (Finance And Public Administration Committee, National Security Legislation Monitor Bill 2009 (Sept. 2009), available at

The Australian Attorney-General, Hon. Robert McClelland, said:

[t]he Government is seeking to achieve an appropriate balance between its responsibility to protect Australia, its people and its interests while instilling confidence in the community that national security and counter-terrorism laws will be exercised in an accountable way in accordance with the rule of law. (Joint Press Release, supra.)

The passage of the bill was welcomed by the President of the Australian Human Rights Commission, Cathy Branson QC, who said that the legislation “means that a Monitor will be in place with the important role of safeguarding the protection of individual rights and liberties.” (Press Release, Cathy Branson QC, Commitment to Appoint an Independent National Security Monitor Welcomed (Mar. 19, 2010), available at