Expressions of interest sought from Senior Counsel - appointment as prescribed authority under the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation Act 1979

21/01/2021

The Commonwealth Attorney-General's Department is seeking expressions of interest from Senior Counsel for appointment as a ‘prescribed authority’ under section 34AD of the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation Act 1979 (the ASIO Act).

Role of the prescribed authority

Division 3 of Part III of the ASIO Act provides a compulsory questioning regime to assist the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation’s (ASIO) collection of intelligence in relation to espionage, politically motivated violence, terrorism and acts of foreign interference.

The ASIO Act provides for prescribed authorities who perform a significant independent accountability function in ensuring that questioning is conducted fairly and in respect of the subject’s human rights. The prescribed authority supervises the questioning, informs subjects of their rights and makes directions about the execution of the warrant. Amendments to the ASIO Act passed last year reformed ASIO’s compulsory questioning powers, including the replacement of questioning and detention warrants with a new questioning and apprehension regime.

Eligibility for appointment

The Attorney-General appoints prescribed authorities under section 34AD of the ASIO Act. Following the recent amendments, this section now provides that certain Queen’s Counsel and Senior Counsel are eligible for appointment.

To be eligible, persons must be:

• a Queen’s Counsel or Senior Counsel;

• hold a State/Territory practicing certificate;

• have engaged in practice as a legal practitioner for at least 10 years; and

• be enrolled as a legal practitioner of a federal court or a State/Territory Supreme Court.

The Remuneration Tribunal (Judicial and Related Offices – Remuneration and Allowances) Determination 2020 sets out the remuneration for prescribed authorities and can be found here. The current daily rate for prescribed authorities is $1,545.

The Department is intending to put forward candidates for appointment to the Attorney-General as soon as possible. Interested eligible members should provide expressions of interest to Mr Thomas Sharp, Director, Counter-Terrorism Legislation Section, Security Law and Policy Branch, Attorney-General’s Department at Thomas.Sharp@ag.gov.au.


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