News

New senator wants intelligence oversight

by
December 04, 2017

Senator Rex Patrick says we can learn from the US's approach to intelligence.

Nick Xenophon's replacement in the Senate wants to boost parliamentary oversight of Australia's spies.

Rex Patrick, who filled the casual vacancy created by Mr Xenophon's resignation, used his first speech to parliament on Monday to foreshadow a private senator's bill enhancing intelligence agencies' accountability.

The former Navy submariner said in the United States committees could delve deep into agency operations.

"This is accepted by the US intelligence community as necessary and appropriate. It should be the same here," Senator Patrick said.

While he praised intelligence services for their "first-class" work, the former Nick Xenophon Team adviser said they could benefit from oversight of operational matters.

Senator Patrick also called for more junior government officials to be put before inquiries and the power to more effectively order the production of official documents.

"The devil is often in the detail and senior officers simply don't know the detail," Senator Patrick said.

He accused some government departments of refusing to answer senators' questions for shallow reasons.

"Let us be clear, we don't have to accept denial, obfuscation or spin from executive government and its servants," Senator Patrick said.

"To do so is copping out, selling out or wimping out of our oaths that we have taken."

Other issues the New Zealand-born senator - who has renounced his citizenship - intends to pursue include stopping the population drain of young people in South Australia, boosting the state's defence manufacturing industry and improving the health of the Murray-Darling Basin.

By
More in National
Login Sign Up

Dummy text