Feb 3, 2017

Bills – Transport Security Legislation Amendment (Serious or Organised Crime) Bill 2016

Second Reading

Mr ALBANESE (Grayndler) (12:20): I rise somewhat belatedly because it has taken some time for the Transport Security Amendment (Serious or Organised Crime) Bill 2016 to get to a debate in this chamber. To that end, I move an amendment that has been circulated in my name, which reads as follows:

That all the words after “That” be omitted with a view to substituting the following words:

“whilst not declining to give the Bill a second reading, the House:

(1) notes that the Government failed to articulate a policy for the aviation or maritime sectors at the 2016 Federal election;

(2) notes the Turnbull Government’s failed WorkChoices On Water legislation would have seriously undermined the Australian maritime sector;

(3) notes in particular that the Government has:

(a) failed to rule out further laws in coastal shipping that would aid the displacement of Australian crews on the Australian coast with foreign crews doing the same work for reduced wages and conditions;

(b) failed to outline its response to the High Court’s decision to overturn the Government’s attempt to circumvent Parliament’s intention to give priority to Australian jobs in our offshore oil and gas sector;

(c) actively worked to facilitate the replacement of Australian maritime crews by foreign crews for permanent work in Australia, by arranging rapid visas, skills recognition and access to ports in cases such as the MV Portland in January 2016; and

(d) previously considered relaxing air cabotage arrangements that could have the effect of displacing Australian flight and cabin crews with foreign crews on lower wages and conditions while working in Australia; and

(4) notes that the Government and its expert agencies have repeatedly acknowledged the obvious point that criminal and security vetting of foreign aviation and maritime workers is much harder than for Australian workers; and

(5) calls on the Federal Government to develop as a matter of urgency aviation and maritime policies, ensuring that such policies prioritise jobs and skills for Australians while also facilitating more reliable background checks”.

Security standards in Australia’s maritime and aviation sector should have nothing to do with politics. Public safety should be the only priority. For most of the time, that is the case, whether the Labor Party is in government or the coalition parties are in government. Laws and regulations relating to the security of ports and airports need to be tough and clear so that Australians and criminals who might wish us harm are in no doubt of the strength of our resolve to keep our nation safe. The legislation which is before us today would toughen background checks on workers in airports and in the maritime sector.

Under existing arrangements, people applying for aviation security identification cards, or ASICs, and maritime security identification cards, or MSICs, undergo background checks, and those checks are designed to establish whether applicants have links with terrorist organisations. This bill would add an extra layer of checking, to ensure that applicants have no links to serious and organised crime. Therefore the opposition will not oppose this bill, but we will be proposing amendments to this legislation, both in the form of the second reading amendment that I have just moved and in the form of consideration-in-detail amendments, because we certainly take security seriously.

I have had the privilege of serving as the transport minister, and, when that was the case, we introduced a range of legislation to ensure that security was maintained at our ports and airports. We have quite an enviable record in this country, and it is appropriate that we take advice from experts when it comes to aviation and maritime security. We are, however, very deeply concerned indeed about the glaring inconsistencies in the government’s approach, particularly when it comes to maritime security but also, of course, aviation security, and that is the point of the second reading amendment that I have moved.

When it comes to ideology before common sense, what happened during the last term of government, in both the aviation and the maritime sectors, was that various people, some of whom have moved on—I speak of Andrew Robb, the former minister for trade—had a real flat-earth approach to competition in the sector. They refused to acknowledge that both aviation and transport are global industries that have within them, however, national interests and that governments around the world understand the importance of having either a domestic aviation industry or a domestic shipping industry and therefore put in place regulations that ensure that that can occur.

If we have unilateral disarmament, if you like, in the form of regulation unlike the rest of the world, there is the potential for Australia, as an island continent located where we are in the world, to not have an aviation or a maritime sector. When it came to aviation, the former minister had a view that I know was opposed by many—particularly in the National Party and regional members—which was that you could open up cabotage, remove the preference for Australian aviation, in the northern part of Australia, as a first step, and foreign carriers could come in, and that would somehow solve problems by providing reduced airfares. Of course, what Qantas and Virgin—and the various subsidiary airlines that they operate—stated would happen was that you would have a withdrawal of those sectors that rely upon cross-subsidy, if you like, within the aviation sector from operating in northern Australia. So you would have a withdrawal of Qantas and Virgin, effectively, from those regional airline routes and they would just concentrate on the highly profitable Sydney-Melbourne and Sydney-Brisbane and other major routes. So routes to and from places like Mount Isa, Cloncurry, Charleville and Bundaberg, and other routes in regional Queensland, in particular, would stop. Roma is the first step on the way to further destinations. In New South Wales, the same thing happens with routes like Taree and Grafton and other routes; you would have a withdrawal. Then, of course, the next step would be to just allow them to fly to Adelaide. And, because the Australian companies could not compete with those airlines offering fares based upon, essentially, Third World wages and Third World conditions and safety checks—safety checks that are not of the same standard that we have here in Australia—you would have a competitive disadvantage for Australian carriers and they would withdraw. That would lead to ongoing consequences for the people and the economies of regional Australia.

But in the end, that proposal was resisted and defeated in the early period of the Abbott government. It was defeated because of the principled actions of some people in the coalition and of the Labor Party, but also, of course, from those regional communities, themselves, who understood what the consequences were. There are also consequences for national security because the truth is you cannot have the same level of checks that are required with ASIC and MSIC in the transport sector as you have for foreign employees. The same thing has happened with the government’s Work Choices on water legislation in the maritime sector: legislation that was defeated in the parliament. The explanatory memorandum for the bill outlined that it would result in the replacement of the Australian flagged vessels with foreign flagged vessels and Australian crews with foreign crews being paid cheaper wages and conditions. And that, indeed, was the advice that the department was giving out to people like Mr Milby, the cruise ship operator in the Kimberley who gave evidence before the Senate committee which led, in part, to that legislation been defeated.

But what has happened is that the government has circumvented its own legislation and has ignored the national security implications behind that, let alone the issues of safety. The national security implications were completely dismissed when the government, for ideological reasons, agreed to a temporary licence to replace the MV Portland. The MV Portland operated between the smelter at Portland and the Western Australian coast. It picked up the natural resources and went around Portland—one top and then back again. It was anything but temporary. For more than a decade, that ship went from one location to another, to and fro, employing Australians—Australians who lived in the local community and people down on that southern coast of Victoria. Yet, on the replacement vessel, people were granted special migration visas and cleared to take that ship to Singapore to be sold off. It was replaced by a foreign vessel without any clear indication about what the implications were for our national security.

That move destroyed Australian jobs. And today, we are being asked with this legislation to toughen the background check on Australian mariners in the name of security but, on the other hand in practice, this government is allowing for temporary licences to be issued with minimal checks—a free-for-all around our coasts. Where do these ships go around our coasts? They go into our ports and into our harbours. The idea that there are not national security implications! I say this in the sincerest way possible, we have not sought to engage in a campaign that is provocative about these sorts of issues. When a ship is in Sydney Harbour or in Brisbane port or in Port Phillip—and many of our harbours located in the most densely populated areas of Australia—you want to be pretty clear and pretty sure that the security of those people who would seek to do us harm is looked at. Do not say on the one hand, ‘We want a free-for-all, we want to get rid of the Australian flag, we want to get rid of the Australian crews around our coastlines,’ and say on the other hand, ‘If you’re an Australian working at a port, we’re going to further toughen up even further the security clearances that you have to go through.’

So I say to the government, and I say to the minister who is here in the chamber, with respect: Minister, you have a great responsibility. I know that you have taken these issues seriously and have been prepared to sit down and engage with people in the sector and that is to your credit. But put the ideology of the free market aside because it does not work for Australia’s economic interests. It does not work for our environmental interests because every one of the major incidents around our coastlines—the Shen Neng and the other disasters that have occurred—have all had something in common: they have all had a foreign flag on the back of the ship. They have all had a mariner who has said that they were not aware that they had to turn through the reef at the appropriate time, and they have crashed into the reef causing a great deal of damage. Australian mariners know the coastline, they have the skills, they have the training and they have the long-term commitment to the national interests. But it is also in our national security interests to have an Australian maritime sector.

I offer again to work with the government in the national interest to get outcomes that would see a growth in the Australian flag—rather than a reduction in the Australian flag—around our coasts. Because—and you do not have to spell it out; common sense tells you—there are people in the world who seek to do us harm, who seek to cause incidents. We know that our security agencies work very hard, and they are doing a great job. I am someone who has been prepared to call it out as I see it; our infrastructure is obviously an area of vulnerability. That is why it is fine to toughen up MSIC cards and ASIC cards—and we will respond constructively to any proposals that come forward. But you cannot do that on the one hand—say we are going to have increased checks of Australians—and on the other hand actually replace those Australians with people who cannot possibly have undergone the same level of checking. That is why this amendment also refers to the High Court decision which overturned the government’s legislation seeking to undermine the priority to be given to Australians working in the offshore oil and gas sector. It is almost at the point where it just defies common sense—when the court decision came down, we had Senator Cash give an ideological statement in the Senate, opposing the court’s actions—what could go wrong in the oil and gas sector in terms of security! I mean seriously; if people do not understand that, then there is something very, very wrong.

In the last campaign, Labor put forward a comprehensive shipping policy. It covered the full range of maritime issues including security, industry taxation arrangements, workforce planning, cruise shipping, ports, the Australian International Shipping Register and Labor’s approach to coastal trading. We have an aviation policy that sets out all of our policy principles for that sector. Indeed, we have put in place mechanisms that have seen a considerable growth in the Australian aviation sector, and I think the success of Virgin and Qantas, as the two major carriers—particularly Qantas as our major international carrier—has been something of which we can all be proud. When it comes to issues of aviation and shipping, that—in part—is how the world sees us as well. I think it is important that the flying kangaroo on the back of a plane is seen in Los Angeles, Beijing or London, or in Johannesburg, Bangkok or Tokyo—anywhere in our region. That really says to people: this is an iconic Australian company. That has a great deal to do with promoting our nation. And we know also that one of the things we can point to in that sector is security and safety, and our proud record. Australian carriers and Australian ships have an extraordinary record, second to none in the world, We should make sure that we recognise that.

This bill would amend the Transport Security Assessment Act and the Maritime Transport and Offshore Facilities Act. These acts concern the issuance of MSICs and ASICs. It comes to us as a response to a recommendation from the National Ice Taskforce for greater rigour in guarding against drug smuggling in ports and airports through a toughening of background checks. The opposition agrees strongly with the need to secure our borders against drug smugglers. We would also like to see the government increase its focus on the treatment of people whose lives are being ruined by drug addiction. Drug abuse is a serious problem affecting tens of thousands of Australians. Law enforcement is important, but so is helping the victims of dealers of hard drugs to recover from their addiction, so they can improve their own lives and make positive contributions to our community.

This legislation came to the House in the 44th Parliament, and I noted then the opposition’s concern about whether the addition of an organised crime check to the existing terrorism check might inadvertently reduce the level of rigour that applies to the terrorism check. That remains our concern, and we put that on the record. For example, when people are engaged in security checks through our airports, they are concerned with a very narrow task—which is keeping people on those planes, in those airports and in those areas safe. That is their one priority. They concentrate on what they are looking for because, if they were looking for everything then, by definition, they would be diluting the concentration on the issues at hand—and when it comes to the threats to our airports and ports, the main issue at hand has to be terrorism. It has to be. And so we seek assurance from the government that this broadening of the definition will not dilute that concentration.

For many years, the number of Australian flagged vessels operating in coastal trade has been an issue. Labor tried to arrest the decline by having the Revitalising Australian Shipping package; a series of mechanisms working with industry, with unions and with the sector, including the Navy, around those issues. We think that is particularly important. There is a security element to the importance of our national legislation as well.

In a submission to a Senate inquiry into the increasing use of flag of convenience vessels in Australian waters, the Department of Immigration and Border Protection rang alarm bells about the use of overseas vessels. It said:

There are features of FOC registration, regulation and practice that organised crime syndicates or terrorists may seek to exploit.

This is the government’s own department. It went on to say that in many flag of convenience nations, there was limited transparency about the identity of the owners of vessels. It said:

Reduced transparency or secrecy surrounding complex financial and ownership arrangements are factors that can make FOC ships more attractive for use in illegal activity, including by organised crime or terrorist groups.

This means that FOC ships may be used in a range of illegal activities including illegal exploitation of natural resources, illegal activity in protected areas, people smuggling and facilitating prohibited imports.

The security advisers, the Department of Immigration and Border Security, under the coalition government, could not have been any clearer in their advice to the government. There is greater security risk in using overseas vessels whose crews have not been properly vetted, than it is to use Australian vessels, with clear ownership lines of accountability, crewed by Australians whose backgrounds have been carefully examined by the authorities.

The government chose to ignore this advice about the growth of flags of convenience rather than Australian flagged vessels, yet today it wants our support to toughen checks on Australian transport workers. In the words of the great John McEnroe: ‘You cannot be serious.’ You have to look at both. You have to look at proper checks on Australian workers but also take account of those alarm bells. I note that this minister is conscious of those issues, and I hope that we can work together to get reforms. The amendment that I have moved is very important in addressing these issues.

A High Court judgement last August exposed the government’s zeal for facilitating the replacement of Australian workers with cheap overseas labour. In December 2015, the government granted working visa exemptions to overseas workers on oil and gas rigs in Australian waters. The government argued that oil rigs were vessels; they were not rigs at all. It wanted to help employers to cut costs by hiring overseas workers instead of Australians. In August, the High Court ruled the exemption invalid and declared that the minister for immigration had exceeded his authority. The government has made no formal response to the judgement. But, in comments to The Guardian, reported on 31 August last year, the minister for immigration made no apologies for exceeding his authority to put Australians out of work. Instead, he complained that requiring overseas workers to go through the working visa process would increase costs.

Given these comments, it is clear that we need to do much better. The temporary licences for vessels such as the replacement of the MV Portland with a foreign vessel crewed by overseas mariners should not happen again. The government should rule out changes to air cabotage, because it is very clear that that is not an appropriate change at all. Also, the government has exceeded the changes which are in the bill. This arises from the National Ice Taskforce. There is a big change here. Instead of having the recommendation as ‘serious and organised crime’ the legislation refers to ‘serious or organised crime’. That is a very important legal distinction to draw. I will be moving an amendment to change this back to the original intention of the experts that were put forward, and I would ask the minister to seriously consider supporting that amendment in the spirit in which it is moved.

We are not moving amendments to legislation such as this just for the sake of it. The minister would know that, in the area of transport and security, I have a record of more than a decade in this place of not attempting to just play politics with it. The amendment that we will move is to bring the legislation in line with the expert recommendations. If you expand it to ‘serious or organised crime’ as opposed to ‘serious and organised crime’ you really widen what you are looking at in terms of the impact on the workforce. Overzealous consideration—with the greatest intention—of what that means means that, if you are looking at things that are not serious, you, by definition, are undermining the intent of the bill. So, when it comes to the consideration-in-detail debate we will move that amendment and hope to get the government’s support.

Consideration in Detail

Mr ALBANESE (Grayndler) (15:31): by leave—I move amendments (1) to (6) and (8) to (11) as circulated in my name together:

(1) Clause 1, page 1 (lines 5 and 6), omit “Serious or Organised”, substitute “Serious and Organised”.

(2) Schedule 1, item 2, page 3 (lines 9 and 10), omit “serious or organised”, substitute “serious and organised”.

(3) Schedule 1, item 3, page 3 (line 15), omit “serious or organised”, substitute “serious and organised”.

(4) Schedule 1, item 4, page 3 (line 18), omit “Serious or organised”, substitute “Serious and organised”.

(5) Schedule 1, item 4, page 3 (line 21), omit “serious or organised”, substitute “serious and organised”.

(6) Schedule 1, item 4, page 3 (line 24), omit “serious or organised”, substitute “serious and organised”.

(8) Schedule 1, item 7, page 5 (line 3), omit “serious or organised”, substitute “serious and organised”.

(9) Schedule 1, item 12, page 5 (line 22), omit “Serious or organised”, substitute “Serious and organised”.

(10) Schedule 1, item 12, page 5 (lines 25 and 26), omit “serious or organised”, substitute “serious and organised”.

(11) Schedule 1, item 12, page 6 (line 4), omit “serious or organised”, substitute “serious and organised”.

The amendments that I have moved in this first section are amendments relating to the distinction between ‘serious or organised’ and ‘serious and organised’. This is not just a question of language; it is a question of language translating into action when it comes to legislation. The significance of this is that the amendments that I have moved are consistent with the recommendations of the National Ice Taskforce and the Joint Committee on Law Enforcement report from 2011. That is the basis of the Transport Security Amendment (Serious or Organised Crime) Bill 2016. These amendments would replace the statement—including the title, it must be said—of the bill throughout this legislation. It is a uniform change and will impact the aviation and maritime bills in the same manner. It is important that we get the language right when we are adding new purposes to important legislation. We need to ensure that we are targeting identified problems in a precise manner. If we do not do that, we are inadvertently weakening the intent of the legislation by broadening the definition so widely that it undermines the intent of the bill to respond to organised crime involved in the trafficking of ice, and that was the basis of this legislation.

We on this side of the House are being constructive. We have not said that we will oppose the legislation. However, we have said, and given clear notice, not just to this minister but to the previous minister, that we have concern here that, essentially, what has happened is that whoever has drafted this legislation has been sloppy about it. I say that because it is the nicest term that can be used. It is better that this is an inadvertent error rather than something that is a calculated decision to abuse the circumstances of the trafficking of drugs to try to widen, in an improper way, the scope of the people who will be caught up by this definition.

As I said in parliament when this bill was first put forward during the last term, we are concerned that the mission of transport security remains tightly focused around managing the post 9-11 security environment. Currently, that is about safeguarding against unlawful interference at our regulated airports and seaports, and really focuses on terrorist-related activity—and that is the purpose of this legislation. These amendments are intended to widen that purpose to include targeting serious criminality which may not be unlawful interference of a terrorist type, which is what is in the previous definition in the bill. Now, no doubt, serious criminality should be targeted. It is of a different focus to terrorism—hence, this legislation. We acknowledge that and we are being constructive in the arguments that we are putting forward. So whilst Labor will not oppose the widened purpose—widening it from terrorism to serious criminality, particularly in the context of the trafficking of ice and other serious drugs—it is important that we take up the experts’ opinion. The views of the experts who conducted the Ice Taskforce and the Joint Committee on Law Enforcement report should be the basis of the legislation, rather than us taking it upon ourselves to widen it inappropriately. (Extension of time granted)

The problem with what the government has done here is that the language has changed from ‘serious and organised crime’ to ‘serious or organised crime’. We believe that we should follow the experts. Frankly, I will be surprised if the government rejects these amendments, because this is an opportunity for the government to have consensus around this legislation. That is certainly always my preferred option. If the government does not agree to the amendments here, perhaps the government might take it upon itself to move the same amendments in the Senate as government amendments. We do need to get this right and wherever possible we have tried to create a circumstance whereby transport security is above the day-to-day argy-bargy of politics that often infects this fine democratic institution here in the House.

I refer to the Ice Taskforce report. I say to the minister, who was not responsible for this bill, that this is an opportunity for him as the new transport minister to show how much better he is than the transport minister that he replaced and suggest that he read the report. This transport minister should not try to attain more than transport ministers any further back than that—because, put simply, the Nats will never have the big picture—but he can be the best National Party transport minister. That is the opportunity that he has here. The Ice Taskforce report uniformly talks about targeting ‘serious and organised crime’. The Joint Committee on Law Enforcement report of the inquiry into the adequacy of aviation and maritime security measures always refers to ‘serious and organised crime’. Both reports refer to it throughout. This is something that the current Minister for Justice should recall, if the transport minister wishes to consult with him, because he was a member of the joint committee at the time. Indeed, this is what the joint committee unanimously recommended to this parliament:

The committee recommends that the scope of the Aviation Transport Security Act 2004 and the Maritime Transport and Offshore Facilities Security Act 2003 be widened to include serious and organised crime in addition to terrorist activity and unlawful interference.

All we are suggesting is that you go to that unanimous recommendation. Indeed, the Attorney-General’s Department’s submission on this bill during the previous parliament uniformly talked about targeting ‘serious and organised crime’. The law enforcement agencies, such as the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission, almost always refer to ‘serious and organised crime’. The Australian Crime Commission Amendment (National Policing Information) Bill 2015, the coalition government’s legislation, which Labor supported and which was carried through both houses of parliament last year, refers to—guess what, Minister? ‘Serious and organised crime’. Indeed, the Senate report on this very bill talks about targeting ‘serious and organised crime’, despite the use of ‘or’ throughout. This is never explained. Only the bill itself uniformly talks about targeting ‘serious or organised crime’. Even the department’s 2015-16 annual report, tabled in the House on 7 November last year, refers to this legislation, on page 30, as targeting ‘serious and organised crime’.

I commend these amendments to the House. They are important amendments. This is not a matter of semantics; this is a matter of ensuring that we truly target, in an appropriate way, serious and organised crime.

Mr ALBANESE (Grayndler) (15:46): I am somewhat disappointed that the minister has indicated the government will not support these amendments, given the spirit in which they have been moved. There is no question that the growth of ice use, particularly in regional communities and, as the minister has said, in Indigenous communities, is having a devastating impact. This is a drug that certainly was not around just a few years ago, and governments have to respond to changes in circumstances. That is why, whether our amendments are carried or not, I indicate that we will support the legislation that is before the House.

But I do note that when the minister addressed the joint parliamentary committee report which preceded the National Ice Taskforce reports in 2011 and 2015 respectively, he spoke about them recommending addressing serious ‘and’ organised crime. They were the words that he used, because they are the words that are in those reports. They are the words that are in the department’s annual report. They are the words that the Australian Crime Commission Amendment (National Policing Information) Bill 2015, that was passed by this parliament, includes. They are the words that the Attorney-General’s Department’s submission on this bill in the previous parliament talked about. Consistently, they are the words that are appropriate to be used, and not just to widen without any proper consideration the implications of changing from serious ‘and’ organised crime to serious ‘or’ organised crime.

We really need to concentrate our efforts if we are going to have a correct impact on it. I would accept the fact that in this chamber the government has a majority to deny the opposition’s amendments that I have moved here. But I would say that the minister should ask for advice from the department or from the AFP—or anyone would do—to support the change in this definition. It is my view that part of the reason for there being able to be a bipartisan position on security issues moving forward is that the politicians are not playing politics with these issues but listening to the experts. If the experts came to me and suggested that we were out of step with what they themselves had previously recommended, then that would be worthy of proper and appropriate consideration. But that has not occurred. Every agency, from the department, through the security agencies and through to the National Ice Taskforce and the joint committee have recommended wording that is consistent with what we are putting forward in these amendments. I commend the amendments to the House.

Mr ALBANESE (Grayndler) (15:51): I will not delay the House for too much longer before we vote on this. I will simply point out two things.

Now, firstly, I appreciate the fact that the minister has outlined, for the first time, some rationale for the government being fairly intransigent on this issue. But the problem I have with that and with the explanation he has just given is that the Australian Crime Commission Amendment (National Policing Information) Bill 2015, which passed the parliament last year, refers, with Labor’s support, to ‘serious and organised’ crime. It defies logic that, somehow, this has arisen in circumstances that legislation was carried. That is legislation that is relevant to national security concerns and, in particular, specifically addresses the Australian Crime Commission and its operations. It seems to me that if this legislation is carried as it currently reads—being put forward by the government—it will put it out of step with the other legislation.

Frankly, people will read that, and there is an opportunity where legislation is inconsistent, particularly legislation that has an impact on prosecution of criminal activity—for people to point towards those inconsistencies between the two pieces of legislation. I expect what we will see before this parliament, which should have happened before now, is that if they are going to change the definition then amend the Australian Crime Commission legislation that has been carried by this House—it will be in need of amendment in order to bring it into consistency with this definition.

Secondly, what has to happen as well, with this, is for draft regulations to apply to this legislation, and the regulations to specify relevant offences that would be deemed to rule out people being eligible for ASIC or MSIC cards. I would have thought that the revised definition we are proposing here—going back to a definition that is consistent with legislation that has previously been adopted in this parliament—would be more appropriate. If the government has any concerns about any specifics, then the appropriate way is to address it in those regulations.

I know from experience that determining what is included in those regulations to be a relevant offence is something that could be the subject of considerable debate and making sure it is got right. But, at all times, it has to be focused on terrorism or very serious organised crime activity. It cannot be such that people who have committed minor infringements get caught up in this. What that will do is undermine the purpose of the legislation.

Mr ALBANESE (Grayndler) (16:06): by leave—I move amendments (7) and (12), as circulated, together:

(Amendment to motion for second reading to be moved by Mr Albanese)

That all the words after “That” be omitted with a view to substituting the following words:

“whilst not declining to give the Bill a second reading, the House:

(1) notes that the Government failed to articulate a policy for the aviation or maritime sectors at the 2016 Federal election;

(2) notes the Turnbull Government’s failed WorkChoices On Water legislation would have seriously undermined the Australian maritime sector;

(3) notes in particular that the Government has:

(a) failed to rule out further laws in coastal shipping that would aid the displacement of Australian crews on the Australian coast with foreign crews doing the same work for reduced wages and conditions;

(b) failed to outline its response to the High Court’s decision to overturn the Government’s attempt to circumvent Parliament’s intention to give priority to Australian jobs in our offshore oil and gas sector;

(c) actively worked to facilitate the replacement of Australian maritime crews by foreign crews for permanent work in Australia, by arranging rapid visas, skills recognition and access to ports in cases such as the MV Portland in January 2016; and

(d) previously considered relaxing air cabotage arrangements that could have the effect of displacing Australian flight and cabin crews with foreign crews on lower wages and conditions while working in Australia; and

(4) notes that the Government and its expert agencies have repeatedly acknowledged the obvious point that criminal and security vetting of foreign aviation and maritime workers is much harder than for Australian workers; and

(5) calls on the Federal Government to develop as a matter of urgency aviation and maritime policies, ensuring that such policies prioritise jobs and skills for Australians while also facilitating more reliable background checks”.

(Mr Albanese)

(1) Clause 1, page 1 (lines 5 and 6), omit “Serious or Organised”, substitute “Serious and Organised”.

(2) Schedule 1, item 2, page 3 (lines 9 and 10), omit “serious or organised”, substitute “serious and organised”.

(3) Schedule 1, item 3, page 3 (line 15), omit “serious or organised”, substitute “serious and organised”.

(4) Schedule 1, item 4, page 3 (line 18), omit “Serious or organised”, substitute “Serious and organised”.

(5) Schedule 1, item 4, page 3 (line 21), omit “serious or organised”, substitute “serious and organised”.

(6) Schedule 1, item 4, page 3 (line 24), omit “serious or organised”, substitute “serious and organised”.

(7) Schedule 1, page 4 (after line 17), after item 4, insert:

4A After section 126

   Insert:

126A Review of decisions relating to security checking under the regulations

(1) This section applies if regulations are made, under any of the following sections, dealing with the security checking (including background checking) of persons who have access to an area or zone:

   (a) section 35;

   (b) section 36;

(c) section 36A;

   (d) section 37;

(e) section 38;

   (f) section 38A;

(g) section 38AB.

(2) The regulations must include provisions allowing a person in relation to whom a security check is carried out to seek:

   (a) reconsideration by the Secretary or the Secretary AGD of a decision in relation to a security identification card; and

   (b) review by the Secretary or the Secretary AGD of a decision in relation to a security identification card; and

(c) review by the Administrative Appeals Tribunal of a decision by the Secretary or the Secretary AGD on review of a decision in relation to a security identification card.

(3) To avoid doubt, nothing in this section permits:

   (a) the Secretary or the Secretary AGD to review an adverse security assessment or a qualified security assessment; or

   (b) the Administrative Appeals Tribunal to review an adverse security assessment or a qualified security assessment other than in accordance with the provisions of the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation Act 1979 and the Administrative Appeals Tribunal Act 1975.

(4) In this section:

   adverse security assessment and qualified security assessment have the same meanings as in the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation Act 1979.

   Secretary AGD means the Secretary who is responsible for administering the scheme prescribed for the purposes of section 8 of the AusCheck Act 2007 (the AusCheck scheme).

(8) Schedule 1, item 7, page 5 (line 3), omit “serious or organised”, substitute “serious and organised”.

(9) Schedule 1, item 12, page 5 (line 22), omit “Serious or organised”, substitute “Serious and organised”.

(10) Schedule 1, item 12, page 5 (lines 25 and 26), omit “serious or organised”, substitute “serious and organised”.

(11) Schedule 1, item 12, page 6 (line 4), omit “serious or organised”, substitute “serious and organised”.

(12) Schedule 1, page 6 (after line 19), after item 12, insert:

12A After section 201

   Insert:

201A Review of decisions relating to security checking under the regulations

(1) This section applies if regulations are made, under any of the following sections, dealing with the security checking (including background checking) of persons who have access to a zone:

   (a) section 105;

   (b) section 109;

(c) section 113;

   (d) section 113D;

(e) section 113F.

(2) The regulations must include provisions allowing a person in relation to whom a security check is carried out to seek:

   (a) reconsideration by the Secretary or the Secretary AGD of a decision in relation to a security identification card; and

   (b) review by the Secretary or the Secretary AGD of a decision in relation to a security identification card; and

(c) review by the Administrative Appeals Tribunal of a decision by the Secretary or the Secretary AGD on review of a decision in relation to a security identification card.

(3) To avoid doubt, nothing in this section permits:

   (a) the Secretary or the Secretary AGD to review an adverse security assessment or a qualified security assessment; or

   (b) the Administrative Appeals Tribunal to review an adverse security assessment or a qualified security assessment other than in accordance with the provisions of the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation Act 1979 and the Administrative Appeals Tribunal Act 1975.

(4) In this section:

   adverse security assessment and qualified security assessment have the same meanings as in the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation Act 1979.

   Secretary AGD means the Secretary who is responsible for administering the scheme prescribed for the purposes of section 8 of the AusCheck Act 2007 ( the AusCheck scheme).

The opposition has moved these amendments in two blocks to try and minimise the disruption to the activity of the House. We believe that, just like our last set of amendments, this set of amendments is very reasonable indeed. It goes to the review of decisions made in security checking. This second group of amendments will put in place the legislative basis for existing review mechanisms. There are, of course, existing review mechanisms available, but, as part of the change package that is before the parliament, the government is proposing to harmonise what are currently different appeal systems for the ASIC and the MSIC. Holders of the ASIC, the aviation security identification card, will have a clearer system of review rights which is equivalent to the existing system which applies for holders of the MSIC, the maritime security identification card. The amendments will retain the new uniformity between the maritime and aviation systems.

About a quarter of a million Australians have an ASIC or an MSIC. For many, the access to those cards is literally a precondition of their employment and their livelihood, to enable them to look after their families. The amendments that I have moved, one of which applies for aviation and one for maritime, will simply require that regulations made after this bill passes into law contain a review mechanism that either already exists or is proposed by the government as part of the harmonisation. Inserting in the respective maritime and aviation security acts a requirement for regulations to include a review mechanism provides an extra level of assurance that the system will include reviews where an adverse finding is made.

When you are doing legislation like this, extending the scope of scrutiny pertaining to the issue of maritime and aviation security identification cards, it is reasonable that, at the same time, there be assurance given. Many of the quarter of a million Australians who have an ASIC or an MSIC will be concerned that somehow they will inadvertently get caught up, in what I believe is in contravention of the government’s aim here—and the opposition shares that aim—in having appropriate security arrangements around our airports and seaports.

I believe that the amendments we are advancing here are worthy of support. I think the government should consider them. This is an example of the government having the opportunity to seize parliamentary process to make the legislation that it proposes better. Common sense suggests that, where people, in a spirit of goodwill, come up with suggestions that will improve legislation, governments should not be stubborn and just say, ‘That’s coming from the opposition; therefore that’s a bad idea.’ This is a good idea. This is about providing certainty. This is about building on the government’s good idea of harmonising the processes for the appeal system for ASIC and MSIC that it says it has. That is a good idea. So let us make it better by carrying these amendments, which the opposition commends to the House.

Mr ALBANESE (Grayndler) (16:15): Can I thank the minister for putting on the record during this debate his assurances about his objectives and his statement that he has no plans to change the comprehensive appeals process that is in place. I accept his comments at face value. The minister, I have found, is someone of integrity, and he would not say that unless he meant it. But the truth is that ministers come and go. The minister who introduced this legislation is gone. The minister who wrote this legislation is gone. I note the rate at which the Prime Minister has to table new sheets containing his frontbench at the beginning of question time.

The fact is our task in this place is to have good legislation that goes beyond the, what is, a very short-term survival instinct of a minister in the current coalition government. Whilst I appreciate his personal assurances and I wish him no ill will—indeed, I hope that he stays a minister until the next election, not beyond that, but until the next election; I wish him well—I do not think we can have legislation on that basis, which is why having the appeals processes included in the legislation is common sense.

It is true that legislation can be changed, but it is also true that legislation has a different status from regulations. That is the truth. When regulations are brought forward, they can often be put under circumstances whereby there are nine parts of the regulations being put forward that are agreed to but the 10th is a problem. Then, the parliament has to make a view as to whether to disallow the entire regulation, or proposed amendment to the regulation, not just one section. That is why legislation is better than regulation, because it allows for proper scrutiny in the law of the land.

What is more, when you are dealing with people’s appeals rights for the consumers of that legislation—those directly impacted, and we are talking about those 250,000 people—those 250,000 people, I think, who currently have ASICs or MSICs, have a different view about what the law is, the legislation, than a forage around looking for some rather obscure regulation which may or may not be relevant to them.

This legislation is trying to get transport security on our ports and airports right for the medium term. It is true that there will have to be change to legislation at some time because we have to keep up with the threat that comes from those who would seek to do us harm or those who are engaged in organised criminal activity. They adjust their methods, therefore, we need to adjust our legislation and our response, together with the appropriate agencies, and they, of course, need to adjust their action on the ground.

Our amendments here are sensible and, I think, are worthy of consideration. We will see what happens with them in the Senate. I would have thought that if they were carried in the Senate then the government would agree with the changed legislation, particularly given the comments that the minister has made. So why not? Here is an opportunity for you, Minister—cut out the senators, get it done now, get the legislation right, and then we can save ourselves a bit of time talking to those in the other place, and say, in a bipartisan way, that this is legislation that has the support of this parliament that it deserves. But only if we get it right, and this minor amendment would make it even better legislation.

Mr ALBANESE (Grayndler) (16:31): Labor will be voting for the third reading of this bill, as we just voted for the second reading of the legislation. I want to make that clear to the House. We will be pursuing our amendments in the Senate, but we would be happy if the minister has suggestions about ways in which the amendments could perhaps be adjusted to satisfy the government, because I do believe that they have been reasonable amendments, and they were put forward in that spirit. I would much prefer for transport security legislation to not be the subject of divisions in the House, because I think it is a national interest issue. So, in speaking in favour of the third reading, I commend the bill to the House but suggest that there are flaws in the legislation that could be easily fixed, and that is the spirit in which the amendments that we just proposed before the House were moved.

Question agreed to.

Bill read a third time.

Contact Anthony

(02) 9564 3588 Electorate Office

Email: A.Albanese.MP@aph.gov.au

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