The heads of Australia’s intelligence agencies are facing questioning at Parliament House over the government’s sweeping encryption reforms
The director of ASIO, Australia’s domestic spy agency, says his intelligence officers would “immediately” move to take advantage of new encryption laws when they pass the parliament.
The security agencies were called to Parliament House for extra hearings after the Morrison government said it wanted to accelerate the passage of the laws before the Christmas break, pulling them out of a bipartisan committee process.
“I anticipate ASIO would immediately use this legislation if it were available,” Duncan Lewis told the committee.
Liberal chair Andrew Hastie asked the director if there was an “operational urgency” to pass the laws.
“Without question,” Mr Lewis responded.
The ASIO chief went on to outline how security agencies faced an annual spike in terror threats around the Christmas holidays, describing the period as a “high point” on the calendar.
Mr Lewis was asked if there was a specific urgency this year, but said he did not have a view on that. He said his agency would generally like to see the laws passed as soon as possible.