Prime Minister Tony Abbott has announced he will nominate Margaret Stone as the next Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security for a period of five years starting from August 24 this year.
In a statement, the prime minister commended Stone’s credentials to be the independent statutory office holder who reviews the activities of Australia’s six intelligence agencies.
“Ms Stone has had a distinguished legal career and was a judge of the Federal Court of Australia from 2000 to 2012. She has been the Independent Reviewer of Adverse Security Assessments since December 2012. She brings a wealth of experience and expertise to the position.
“Australia’s intelligence agencies make a vital contribution to our national security, particularly at a time when we face a serious threat from terrorism.
“The Australian intelligence community operates within a robust oversight and accountability framework, and the Inspector-General plays an important role in reviewing the activities of the intelligence agencies.
“I thank Dr Vivienne Thom whose term as Inspector-General finishes on July 18, 2015. Dr Thom has carried out the role with diligence and integrity and I wish her well for the future.”
In contrast to Stone, Thom came from a largely administrative oversight background. Her role prior to taking up the IGIS position was as deputy ombudsman in the Office of the Commonwealth Ombudsman.
Thom has occasionally rocked the boat, questioning the accountability of new laws, but never seriously coming into conflict with the Gillard or Abbott governments.
Jake Blight, the Band 1 Assistant Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security, will act as the Inspector-General until August 23.
The agencies the IGIS has responsibility and powers to review are nearly always known by their initials alone, and are collectively known as the Australian Intelligence Community:
- Australian Security Intelligence Organisation – ASIO
- Australian Secret Intelligence Service – ASIS
- Australian Signals Directorate – ASD
- Australian Geospatial-Intelligence Organisation – AGO
- Defence Intelligence organisation – DIO
- Office of National Assessments – ONA