Opening Statement - Migration and Citizenship Legislation Amendment (Strengthening Information Provisions) Bill 2020
Dr Jacoba Brasch QC, President, Law Council of Australia
27 August 2021
"The Law Council accepts that there is a public interest in law enforcement and criminal intelligence agencies providing probative information to officials responsible for exercising character-related powers, and in there being a means to control the disclosure of such information to persons subject to the exercise of those powers.
However, such a scheme must balance those interests against principles fundamental to a democratic legal system: the right to a fair hearing, effective judicial review, the proper administration of justice, and parliamentary and independent scrutiny of executive power.
The Bill does not strike the appropriate balance – noting that grave consequences follow these powers’ exercise, including losing the right to remain in Australia, and to be a citizen.
The Protected Information Framework will apply to information:
- provided by agencies determined by the Minister, without any Parliamentary scrutiny;
- of a kind which need not meet any statutory test as to its nature, sensitivity, veracity or the risks arising from disclosure.
Yet, despite this absence of oversight, the information is afforded inordinate protection from disclosure, testing and review in the administrative and judicial decision-making processes."
Read the full opening statement below.