2017 Independent Intelligence Review

On 7 November 2016 the Prime Minister announced that Mr Michael L’Estrange AO and Mr Stephen Merchant PSM would jointly undertake an independent review of the Australian Intelligence Community (AIC) in accordance with the Terms of Reference.

The timing of the Review is consistent with the 2011 Independent Review of the Intelligence Community recommendation that periodic reviews occur every five years.

The Review will examine the environment in which the intelligence community operates, and consider how effectively it serves Australia’s national interests. In particular the suitability of the current structural, legislative and oversight architecture of the intelligence community will be considered.

Mr L’Estrange and Mr Merchant will report their findings to the Australian Government in the first half of 2017. The Review will produce a public version of its report.

Public Submissions

Members of the public can make submissions to the review in accordance with the terms of reference. Submissions can be emailed to intelligencereview@pmc.gov.au or sent by post to:

‘2017 Independent Intelligence Review’ c/o The Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet, PO Box 6500, CANBERRA ACT 2600.

The closing date for public submissions is 4 January 2017.

Terms of Reference

The 2017 independent review of the Australian Intelligence Community (AIC) will prepare findings and recommendations on the AIC and related issues below in a classified report for the Government, along with an unclassified version of that report.

The review will be completed in the first half of 2017 and will focus on the Office of National Assessments, the Australian Secret Intelligence Service, the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation, the Australian Signals Directorate, the Defence Intelligence Organisation and the Australian Geospatial-Intelligence Organisation.

It will also examine the relationship and engagement between those agencies and the members of the broader National Intelligence Community, including the Australian Federal Police, the Department of Immigration and Border Protection, the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission, and the Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre.

The review will consider, among other things:

  • how the key aspects of our security environment and the nature of security threats have changed in recent times, including as a result of technological advancements, and how they are likely to change further over the coming ten years or so
  • how effectively the AIC serves (and is positioned to serve) Australian national interests and the needs of Australian policy makers
  • whether the AIC is structured appropriately, including in ensuring effective coordination and contestability
  • whether the AIC is resourced appropriately, including to ensure the right balance of resources across the AIC and that agency resources are properly matched against national security priorities, and the impact of the efficiency dividend
  • whether legislative changes are needed, including to the Intelligence Services Act 2001
  • whether capability gaps, including technological, are emerging and how these might be met, noting potential efficiencies and that any new proposals would need to be consistent with the Government’s overall fiscal strategy
  • the effectiveness of current oversight and evaluation arrangements
  • the development path of overseas intelligence partners and lessons for Australia

The Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet will establish a secretariat for the review and provide logistics support to the review as required.

The review team will have full access to all material applicable to its examination. Relevant departments and agencies are to co-operate fully with the review and provide any requested assistance. Ministers will also be asked to meet with and assist the review team.

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