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Australian Parliament amends national security legislation

The Australian Parliament recently amended national security legislation via the National Security Legislation Amendment (Comprehensive Review and Other Measures No.1) Bill to enhance Australia’s security capabilities.

The Bill is coming off the back of the Ukraine-Russia conflict and the REDSPICE initiative. REDSPICE is a defensive program that stands for resilience, effects, defence, space, intelligence, cyber, and enablers. To ensure the program’s objectives are met, the Australian Parliament has allocated $9.9B into cybersecurity over the next 10 years to rapidly grow Australia’s military expansion and prevent against cyber threats. An extra $280M will also be added to law enforcement capabilities. The rationale behind these moves is to put Australia in a proactive rather than reactive position. In this way, Australia will be prepared for unexpected terrorist attacks and international conflicts. Additionally, this Bill will protect Australian citizens, whilst maintaining freedoms and liberties.

The Bill features the following key points:

  1. clear Ministerial authorisation for intelligence agencies, including a new emergency provision to assist Australians at imminent risk overseas, such as Australians captured as hostages
  2. authorisation for government agencies to produce foreign intelligence on Australians who are, or are likely to be, involved with terrorist activities or entities
  3. new arrangements for communication between Australian’s intelligence agencies and other local entities, and
  4. increased transparency into agencies’ privacy protections for Australians, specifically clarifying the scope of agencies’ privacy rules, creating a legislative requirement that privacy rules be publicly available, and permitting the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security to review those rules.

With these changes, Australia aims to be a major cyber player and protect itself for the future. Only time will tell whether this initiative is enough to handle international adversaries.

For the full reading of the Bill, see here.

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