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Activity 8: Liaising with other accountability or integrity agencies

Liaising with other accountability or integrity agencies in Australia and overseas

Introduction

We frequently liaise with other accountability and integrity agencies, both in Australia and overseas. This liaison provides opportunities for us to discuss matters of mutual interest, learn from each other's practices and keep abreast of significant developments in other jurisdictions.

Figure 3.6: Number of presentations by year and audience

Figure 3.6: Number of presentations by year and audience

Quantitative performance measures

There were no quantitative performance measures identified in the OIGIS Corporate Plan 2015–19 that were directly applicable to our liaison with other accountability or integrity agencies in Australia and overseas.

A summary of our interactions with such agencies is provided in the discussion below.

Discussion

Australian Human Rights Commission

The Australian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) is required by section 11(3) of the Australian Human Rights Commission Act 1986 to refer human rights and discrimination matters relating to an act or practice of the intelligence and security agencies to the IGIS. In June 2016, the Inspector-General met with Professor Gillian Triggs, President of the Australian Human Rights Commission, to discuss their respective roles and other issues of mutual interest. The Inspector-General also met with AHRC staff to discuss the role of our office in handling those matters referred to it.

Specific matters referred to the IGIS by the AHRC as complaints are discussed in detail in this report under Activity 3.

Commonwealth Ombudsman

The work of our office complements the work of the Office of the Commonwealth Ombudsman (OCO), and there is a memorandum of understanding that guides how complaints that overlap the jurisdictions of each office are handled.

During 2015–16, we continued to hold face to face meetings every two months at the Assistant IGIS/Deputy Ombudsman level. The purpose of these meetings was to ensure the coordination of our investigative activities, to reduce duplication of effort, and also to discuss issues of mutual interest including any legislative changes affecting integrity and oversight bodies.

The most frequent area of overlap between our respective offices continues to relate to the handling of immigration and visa-related security assessment complaints. Where appropriate, our staff either refer matters directly to the OCO or recommend to the visa applicant that they may wish to lodge a complaint with the OCO where the matter does not come within IGIS's jurisdiction. This includes, for example, cases where the application was never referred to ASIO for security checks. Our staff also raise with the OCO any systemic issues that appear to relate to Immigration---for example, in cases where there has apparently been prolonged delay by Immigration in processing certain visa applications.

This office also liaised closely with OCO during 2015–16 on the management of the Commonwealth's Public Interest Disclosure Scheme. While the Commonwealth Ombudsman has overarching responsibility for the operation of the PID scheme, the IGIS is responsible for overseeing the scheme for the intelligence and security agencies. Further information on the IGIS's responsibilities under the PID scheme is discussed at Activity 4 of this report.

International engagement

In March 2016, the Inspector-General met with a member of the Canadian Privy Council Office, Mr David Vigneault, to discuss matters of mutual interest in the oversight of intelligence agencies.

In April 2016 New Zealand Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security, Ms Cheryl Gwyn, and a delegation from her office, met with the IGIS and staff to discuss ongoing inspection and oversight activities. Given the similarity in their respective governing legislation the two offices can learn much from each other in relation to the discharge of their responsibilities.