Nameless ASIO powers not accountable, inspector-general warns

Can new powers for the nation’s spooks be accountable if they’re not tied to a statutory officer? The person charged with oversight, Dr Vivienne Thom, has her doubts.

Doubts have been raised over the accountability and oversight implications for Australian Security Intelligence Organisation officials exercising their new powers under counter-terrorism legislation introduced last week.

Briefing the MPs and senators early this morning, inspector-general of intelligence and security, Dr Vivienne Thom, said the language giving the new powers to the agency, rather than an individual statutory office holder, was “unprecedented”.

Dr Vivienne Thom

Dr Vivienne Thom

“My concern is not just the convenience of oversight, but the accountability of the individual,” Thom said. “In my view it’s better practice to have decisions by nominated individuals.”

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