Intelligence committee row to test Anthony Albanese’s new politics: Greens
Anthony Albanese has said he wants to lead a government that ensures parliamentary processes operate with integrity. Photo: AAP
The Greens claim the government is falling short of a promise to do politics differently with its plan to appoint only major-party MPs to a key committee.
By the end of its first post-election sitting week, the government had appointed members to its dozens of parliamentary committees, but not to one of the most prestigious – the Joint Intelligence and Security Committee.
Greens Senator David Shoebridge said the government was proceeding with nominations that would have divided the committee’s 11 members between only Coalition and Labor MPs.
But he said the government abruptly stopped short of formalising nominations when the Greens said it had breached a law requiring it to consult with the crossbench and consider the composition of Parliament when making nominations.
The Greens’ David Shoebridge has called for an end to “two-party nonsense”. Photo: Getty
“It’s a requirement at law that membership of this committee is determined in consultation with the leaders of all parties in the Parliament, and that membership should reflect the Parliament,” he said.
“This kind of hyperpartisan two-party nonsense has to end.
“It’s not a good start when a new government breaks the law on national security on the first day of Parliament.”
The New Daily contacted the Committee Secretary, who said that committee membership was determined per the Intelligence Services Act 2001, which requires the leaders of all political parties to be consulted before nominations are submitted.
The act requires government leadership in each house to “have regard to the desirability of ensuring that the composition of the committee reflects the representation of recognised political parties in the Parliament”.
Senator Shoebridge says the Greens were not consulted despite what he says is a legal requirement; The party has 16 MPs.
The government’s leader in the Senate, Penny Wong, referred queries to the office of Prime Minister Anthony Albanese, which did not answer the questions by the time of publication.
Despite the law being in place, only during the 2010 minority Parliament has a crossbench MP recently served on the committee – former intelligence analyst Andrew Wilkie.
Mr Wilkie was not available for an interview on Sunday.
Senator Shoebridge is calling on the government to urgently review what he calls the “secretive” approach of previous governments and take a more collaborative approach to politics.
The committee has run inquiries into the activities of the nation’s intelligence services and last year led a parliamentary inquiry into extremism movements and radicalism in Australia.
It has previously come under scrutiny for the lack of women MPs among its members for nearly half of its existence, including as recently as 2015.