Australia enacts law creating independent national security monitor

NSL, Ch. 2.

Following the UK lead, Australia is on the cusp of creating an "independent national security legislation monitor".  Canada, in comparison, is not, although I have argued elsewhere that this would be a very good idea.  The Australian bill describes the role of the "monitor" as follows:

6(1)  The Independent National Security Legislation Monitor has
the following functions:

(a)  to review, on his or her own initiative, the operation,
effectiveness and implications of:

 

(i)  Australia’s counter-terrorism and national
security legislation; and


(ii)  any other law of the Commonwealth to the extent that it
relates to Australia’s counter-terrorism and national
security legislation;

 

 


(b)  to consider, on his or her own initiative, whether any
legislation mentioned in paragraph (a):


(i)  contains appropriate safeguards for protecting the rights
of individuals; and

(ii)  remains proportionate to any threat of terrorism or
threat to national security, or both; and


(iii)  remains necessary;

 

 

 


(c)  if a matter relating to counter-terrorism or
national security is referred to the Monitor by the Prime
Minister—to report on the reference;

(d)  to assess whether Australia’s counter-terrorism or
national security legislation is being used for matters unrelated
to terrorism and national security.

This new monitor will, I believe, enhance institutional knowledge on national security law issues while creating another locus of accountability in that state.  In Canada, in comparison, we do national security law on an apparently ad hoc basis, without much transparency and usually in the wake of scandals that prompt expensive, adversarial and time-consuming public inquiries.  There are lessons to be learned from our Commonwealth cousins.