Parliament today passed the Intelligence Services Amendment Bill 2018. Australian Secret Intelligence Service (ASIS) officers will now be better able to protect Australia's national security interests, including themselves and other persons, while serving overseas.

These changes reflect the environments in which ASIS now operates, which are often hazardous and complex. They will allow the Minister for Foreign Affairs to specify additional persons outside Australia who may be protected by an armed ASIS staff member. They will also enable the use of reasonable force by an ASIS staff member in undertaking specified activities outside Australia in the proper performance of an ASIS function.

ASIS will now work with the Attorney-General’s Department and the Inspector-General of Intelligence & Security (IGIS) to produce guidelines covering the use of reasonable force under the new Schedule 3 of the Act.

Oversight of the use of these powers will be maintained by the independent IGIS and the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security, ensuring ongoing compliance and reassuring the Australian public that ASIS’s conduct remains consistent with the law.

I would like to thank the leadership and membership of the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security for its careful consideration of, and bipartisan support for, the Bill.

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