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 Strategic Priority 2 - Security

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Protect Australia by delivering effective national security policies, legislation and programs

Potential threats to Australia's people, infrastructure, technologies, businesses and government agencies have increased in recent years. Our role is to work with international, national, state and territory counterparts, community groups, non-government organisations and businesses to identify possible threats and undertake initiatives to reduce exposure and harm.

The department maintains a national counter-terrorism capability by delivering effective programs, legislation and policies. To counter violent extremism, our emphasis is on supporting communities to oppose violent extremist ideologies and protect those who may be vulnerable to these influences. We also maintain the National Security Hotline.

Clients and stakeholders surveyed in 2017 expressed good levels of satisfaction and we achieved higher-than-targeted overall results. Survey results indicated 93% of stakeholders were satisfied with national security strategies, 91% of stakeholders and clients rated our effectiveness highly and 81% agreed our work was very efficient. Our interactions with stakeholders ranked very highly with staff professionalism and commitment achieving a 90% satisfaction level (see Table 4).

Table 4 : KPI performance statement for Strategic Priority 2: Security

KPIs Performance criterion(a) Target Result
Community impact Satisfaction with and awareness of national security strategies 80% 93%
Effectiveness in achieving objectives Stakeholder and client satisfaction with the effectiveness of the department's contribution to national security 80% 91%
Efficiency in meeting goals National security policy advice, program work and legislative changes Work meets all requirements 81%
Professionalism, skills and commitment Stakeholder and client satisfaction with the professionalism, skills and commitment of staff delivering national security initiatives 80% 90%

(a) Performance criterion as per Corporate Plan 2016–17, p. 14 and Portfolio Budget Statements 2016–17, Program 1.2, p. 25 and Program 1.7, p. 28.

The key activities under this strategic priority and associated measurement are detailed in Table 5.

Table 5 : Activity performance statement for Strategic Priority 2: Security

Key activity Result
Develop and implement counter-terrorism legislation reforms ACHIEVED
The Counter-Terrorism Legislation Amendment Bill (No. 1) 2016 passed the Parliament.
The Criminal Code Amendment (High Risk Terrorist Offenders) Bill 2016 passed the Parliament.
Develop strategies and activities to counter violent extremism, and engage with jurisdictions on intervention and diversion programs and community referral pathways ACHIEVED
The COAG CVE Taskforce concluded on 9 December 2016 with key initiatives delivered.
Training was delivered to frontline officials (police, corrections) as well as community groups, school leadership teams and other institutions.
Over 130 young people participated in the Youth Digital Forum in November 2016.
Undermining Violent Extremist Narratives in South East Asia: A How-To Guide was published.
Support the Australian intelligence community through legislative reviews and policy development and implementation ACHIEVED
The review into Certain Questioning and Detention Powers in Relation to Terrorism was completed.
Supporting the independent review of the Australian intelligence community.
Assisting with implementation of data retention measures.
Engage internationally to enable operational and policy cooperation, and support capability building of relevant counterpart agencies ACHIEVED
The Australia-Indonesia Partnership for Justice Phase II was established.
Two meetings of the Australia-Indonesia Ministerial Council on Law were held.
A capacity-building workshop on Using Electronic Evidence in Terrorism Cases was held.
Participation in the Council of Europe Convention on Cybercrime plenary meetings.
Implement programs, reviews and reforms in the areas of cyber security, critical infrastructure, telecommunications, interception reform, facial biometric matching and identity security ACHIEVED
Launch of the Critical Infrastructure Centre.
The agreement between Australia and France on the exchange and reciprocal protection of classified information entered into force.
Finalising a simplified and intuitive Protective Security Policy Framework.
Operate the Australian Government Crisis Coordination Centre and National Security Hotline to coordinate national responses to crises and disasters and provide a single point of contact for the public to report possible signs of terrorism ACHIEVED
The Crisis Coordination Centre reported on 930 domestic and international events.
The National Security Hotline received more than 23,000 calls with 29% of these passed to police and security agencies.
Provide incident response and information exchange through the Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT) ACHIEVED
The CERT responded to reports of cyber-related activity.
Information exchanges occurred with industry partners under the CERT Information Exchange Program.
Cyber security exercises were conducted as part of the CERT Readiness Program and the National Cyber Security Exercise Program.
Joint Cyber Security Centre in Brisbane was launched.
The Stay Smart Online program issued 100 alerts to over 40,000 subscribers and maintained the Facebook page (20,000 followers).
Undertake strategic security and risk planning for the Rugby League World Cup 2017 and Gold Coast Commonwealth Games 2018 and coordination for ANZAC commemorative services ONGOING
Security planning was conducted for the Rugby League World Cup 2017, the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games 2018, the annual ANZAC commemorations in France and Turkey and the Centenary of ANZAC program in Belgium and Israel.


Reforming counter-terrorism legislation

The Counter-Terrorism Legislation Amendment Bill (No. 1) 2016 passed the Parliament in November 2016 and the Criminal Code Amendment (High Risk Terrorist Offenders) Bill 2016 passed the Parliament in December 2016. Both Bills were subject to inquiry by the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security (PJCIS). We provided submissions and appeared at public and private hearings in relation to these inquiries.

On 6 December 2016, the listing of four terrorist organisations (Al-Qa'ida in the Indian Subcontinent, Islamic State Sinai Province, Islamic State in Libya and Al-Qa'ida in the Arabian Peninsula) was referred to the PJCIS. We appeared at and reported on the PJCIS public hearing. In this report, the PJCIS supported the listing of each organisation under the Criminal Code.

Countering violent extremism

To counter violent extremism (CVE), the emphasis of programs and policies is to support communities to reject violent extremist ideologies and protect those most vulnerable to these influences. Family members, friends, community and religious leaders, frontline and youth services, academia and officials at all levels of government have a role to play. Our work can only succeed if there is close and enduring collaboration across all levels of government, institutions, frontline officials, industry and with communities.

A key achievement this year was delivering on the important work of the Council of Australian Government's (COAG) Countering Violent Extremism Taskforce. The majority of taskforce commitments were achieved and the taskforce was disbanded following the COAG meeting on 9 December 2016. Leaders noted the implementation of countering violent extremism initiatives that were agreed in December 2015. These include:

  • assisting NSW to establish support services comprising a helpline and website
  • training packages to increase awareness of school leadership staff and a stocktake of resources for use in schools to build protective factors against radicalisation to violent extremism
  • a national digital forum with the private sector, workshops for youth and their mentors and an online magazine to help young people with the skills and tools to challenge hate speech and violent ideologies
  • training courses for journalists, student journalists and communities to improve reporting accuracy and equip community spokespeople to respond effectively
  • a national CVE evaluation framework and good-practice guide to ensure consistent evaluation of CVE projects.

We know that terrorist groups use the internet and social media to spread violent extremist ideology. We continue to develop our understanding of how violent extremist propaganda and ideologies affect Australians. As such, we work closely with providers of social media platforms to discover and remove violent extremist content and we advocate for companies to do more. Throughout the 2016-17 financial year, we identified 3,235 items as meeting takedown criteria. Of these, at least 87% were removed through our referral to the hosting company or removed prior to a report being lodged.

We published 50 analytic reports on the influence of terrorist propaganda on Australians. These reports guided our interactions with digital industry, shaped leadership messaging and informed our content removal and disruption efforts.

In October 2016, we co-hosted 130 youth from across Australia to participate in a digital forum organised by DIGI Group (Google, Twitter, Facebook, Microsoft and Yahoo!) to promote diversity and counter hate speech online. A further 100 youth and their mentors were trained in how to use social media effectively to communicate against hate speech and violent extremism.

We have supported frontline health professionals, community members and families to access research, training and support services. This includes support via national intervention programs such as tailored case management plans designed to prevent individuals becoming radicalised.

Internationally, we maintain strong bilateral relationships and participate in multilateral fora, including the Global Counter Terrorism Forum and the Global Coalition Against Daesh. In August 2016, Undermining Violent Extremist Narratives in South East Asia: A How-To Guide was published in collaboration with Hedayah (the International Center of Excellence in Countering Violent Extremism) and experts from across the region. We also helped establish the Southeast Asia Network of Civil Society Organisations. The development of the best practice guide and civil society network are key outcomes from Australia's 2015 Regional Summit on Countering Violent Extremism.

Maintaining an effective counter-terrorism capability nationally

We continued to support the Australia-New Zealand Counter-Terrorism Committee in the ongoing development and maintenance of Australia's national counter-terrorism capability. This was achieved through training, planning, policy development and procurement programs and the conduct of six multi-jurisdictional counter-terrorism exercises. These activities foster inter-jurisdictional and inter-agency cooperation.

Amending legislation for the intelligence community

In October 2016, the Independent National Security Legislation Monitor report on Certain Questioning and Detention Powers in Relation to Terrorism was completed. The report addressed the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation's (ASIO) Questioning Warrant and Questioning and Detention Warrant powers. The report also considered the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission's (ACIC) examination powers and Australian Federal Police powers under Part 1C of the Crimes Act 1914 (Cth).

In February 2017, the PJCIS commenced its review of ASIO's questioning and detention powers. The review is scheduled to conclude by 7 March 2018, in advance of the sunset date in September 2018. We are working with ASIO and ACIC to support the review.

Data retention for use in civil proceedings and destruction requirements

This year we assisted Australian, state and territory enforcement agencies to comply with new reporting and record-keeping requirements for data retention.

We worked with the Department of Communications and the Arts to review whether data retained solely for the purposes of the data retention scheme should be available for use in civil proceedings and, if so, in what circumstances. The review concluded that sufficient evidence had not been received to sustain a recommendation that regulations be made to allow civil litigants to access retained data.

We also reviewed the adequacy of the destruction requirements for telecommunications data received by agencies. The review concluded that the government should not legislate to require enforcement agencies to destroy telecommunications data.

Independent review of the Australian intelligence community

In November 2016, an independent review of Australia's intelligence community was announced. The review examined the environment in which the intelligence community operates and considered how effectively it serves Australia's national interests. In particular, the review considered the suitability of the current structural, legislative and oversight architecture of the intelligence community. The department seconded an expert in security and intelligence law to support the review and provided a detailed submission setting out departmental views on key issues, in particular, on the legislative framework for the Australian intelligence community.

Implementing data retention obligations

We continue to work with law enforcement, security agencies and the telecommunications industry to implement the data retention obligations under the Telecommunications (Interception and Access) Act 1979 (Cth). This included assessing data retention implementation plans and applications for variations to or exemptions from the obligations by April 2017.

In partnership with AusIndustry, we administered the Data Retention Industry Grants Program. In September 2016, the government announced funding to 180 recipients. The majority of recipients were granted up to 80% of their upfront costs for achieving data retention compliance.

We worked one-on-one with a number of providers, as well as operated a phone and email advice service. In the last 12 months, we have responded to over 800 email and phone queries from industry in relation to data retention obligations.

Reforms to protect telecommunications networks and infrastructure

The Telecommunications and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2016 was introduced into the Senate in November 2016 and referred to the PJCIS. The Bill protects Australia's critical telecommunications networks and infrastructure and the information held on those networks. The PJCIS tabled its report on 30 June 2017.

Cooperating internationally and supporting counterpart agencies

This year we participated in the Council of Europe Convention on Cybercrime plenary meetings held in October 2016 and June 2017. A key priority over the next year will be developing an Additional Protocol to the Convention to deal with law enforcement agencies accessing data held in other jurisdictions. We will participate in the drafting group that is developing the draft Additional Protocol.

Establishing the Australia-Indonesia Partnership for Justice Phase II (AIPJ II) was a key achievement in 2016–17. The AIPJ II, valued at up to $40 million over five years from 2017–2021, supports Australian and Indonesian institutions to continue close cooperation on law, justice and security issues. The AIPJ II builds on the first Australia-Indonesia Partnership for Justice, which concluded in 2016–17. This highlights the strong relationship between our law, justice and security agencies to counter contemporary threats, including terrorism.

The security environment in Australia and South East Asia continues to be significantly influenced by foreign conflicts that have increased the terrorist threat across the region. The challenging terrorist threat environment, particularly the potential movement of foreign terrorist fighters, highlights the importance of continued engagement with law and justice agencies from partner countries. We have continued our capacity building work to strengthen legal frameworks to counter terrorism. In 2016–17, we also participated in two meetings of the Australia-Indonesia Ministerial Council on Law and Security in August 2016 and February 2017 respectively. These meetings brought together Australian and Indonesian ministers and senior officials responsible for national security, to discuss our response to evolving terrorism, cyber and transnational criminal threats that transcend national borders.

Cooperating internationally and supporting counterpart agencies

Critical Infrastructure Centre

In January 2017, the Critical Infrastructure Centre was launched to manage national security risks of sabotage, espionage and coercion related to foreign involvement in Australia's critical infrastructure. The centre is a multi-agency, multi-disciplinary team that develops whole-of-government national security risk assessments to support government decision-making. It also provides advice to Australia's critical infrastructure owners and operators about necessary mitigations. This gives greater certainty to investors and industry on the types of assets that attract national security scrutiny.

In February 2017, a public discussion paper seeking views on the centre's operations and other measures to enhance the security of Australia's critical infrastructure was released. The consultation received 51 submissions and 300 industry representatives attended fora across the country. Feedback is being considered and will inform the operations of the centre and the development of potential legislative reforms to manage critical infrastructure assets.

Facial biometric matching, identity security

Biometric face matching services improve the ability of government agencies to share and match facial images. This is important for supporting law enforcement and security agencies by detecting and preventing the use of fraudulent identities to identify unknown persons. The Face Verification Service (FVS) commenced in November 2016 and provides verification of citizenship and visa images held by the Department of Immigration and Border Protection.

We worked with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade to extend the FVS to include passport images and this will commence in mid-2017. We also undertook a proof-of-concept activity with the Digital Transformation Agency to establish a mechanism to use the FVS for the government's digital identity program. State and territory police and road agencies have participated in this national initiative.

We continue to manage the Document Verification Service. A total of 30.8 million transactions were conducted this year, with the number of users increasing to 80 government agencies and 625 businesses by 30 June 2017.

Fraud control

Work to strengthen fraud control arrangements continued with the issuing of a new Commonwealth Fraud Control Policy and Commonwealth Fraud Control Guidance. On 30 March 2017, we introduced legislation to address legislative barriers on information sharing that currently limits action that Australian Government agencies can take to prevent, detect, investigate or respond to fraud and corruption matters.

Protective security

Measures to reduce the threat posed by malicious insiders are underway. Key reforms include enhancing the ability of government agencies to manage the ongoing suitability of their personnel, and initiatives to better assess new and evolving risk factors in vetting processes. We also developed and obtained endorsement from government agencies to implement a simplified Protective Security Policy Framework. The revised framework will commence in July 2018.

A treaty-level agreement between Australia and France on the exchange and reciprocal protection of classified information was signed by the Attorney-General in December 2016 and entered into force in May 2017. The Agreement between the Government of Australia and the Government of the French Republic regarding the Exchange and Reciprocal Protection of Classified Information supports Australia's cross-government security cooperation with France, including the Future Submarine Program.

Operating the Crisis Coordination Centre and National Security Hotline

The Crisis Coordination Centre is a 24/7 facility that monitors and informs the government of emerging hazards. It provides whole-of-government situational awareness and plans government’s response to domestic crises. The Crisis Coordination Centre reported on 930 domestic and international events during the year.

During 2016–17, the National Security Hotline received more than 23,000 calls with approximately 29% of these passed to Australia’s police and security agencies for further analysis and investigation.

Operating the Computer Emergency Response Team

The national Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT Australia) supports Australian businesses to prepare for, and respond to, cyber-related events. It does this by providing cyber-threat information and operational cyber security support to create a secure digital economy.

The Australian Government Cyber Security Strategy expanded CERT Australia’s operational capacity to work with Australian businesses, to make them more cyber resilient. In 2016–17, more than 550 businesses had partnered with CERT Australia. We ran 16 events through the Information Exchange Program and responded to thousands of cyber-related reports. As part of the CERT Readiness Program and National Cyber Security Exercise Program, and in collaboration with international and national partners, we participated in 11 cyber security exercises to practice response arrangements, enhance interoperability and support capability development.

In February 2017, we launched the first Joint Cyber Security Centre in Brisbane, bringing together government, industry and academia to collaborate on shared cyber security challenges.

Since transitioning to CERT Australia in August 2016, the Stay Smart Online program has issued more than 100 alerts to over 40,000 subscribers, as well as providing advice via the Facebook page, which has almost 20,000 followers. We have collaborated with industry, government and community partners on a range of awareness campaigns. These include Safer Internet Day, World Backup Day and our flagship campaign, Stay Smart Online awareness week.

We have also worked with the Australian Stock Exchange to implement the Cyber Health Check. This helps senior executives understand their cyber security status. We are leading a public-private co-design process to develop voluntary best practice guidelines.

In October 2016, CERT Australia was re-elected as the Chair of the Asia Pacific CERT (APCERT) Steering Committee, providing leadership to build regional cyber security capabilities and coordinate measures across the Asia Pacific region.

Coordinating major event security

Australia continues to maintain its reputation for hosting high-profile and highly successful commemorative, inter-governmental and sporting events. This is achieved by departmental support and coordinating security arrangements for major events of national significance.

We use well-established relationships with other Australian Government departments, law enforcement agencies, event owners and organisers to manage security risks and develop comprehensive security arrangements. The end result is safe and secure events. We employ a risk-based approach to security planning to prevent security incidents where possible and to respond effectively in the event of an incident occurring.

During 2016–17, we focused on security planning for the Rugby League World Cup 2017, the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games 2018, the annual ANZAC commemorations in France and Turkey and the Centenary of ANZAC program in Belgium and Israel. We continue to work with partners to meet the challenges of rapidly evolving security environments around events of significance.

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