Electronic surveillance set for overhaul

Christian Porter says modernised laws will govern Australia's electronic surveillance activities.
Christian Porter says modernised laws will govern Australia's electronic surveillance activities.

Australia's electronic surveillance laws are set for an overhaul after the Morrison government agreed to the recommendations of a landmark intelligence report.

Former intelligence chief Dennis Richardson's 1300-page report found the existing framework was unnecessarily complex and outpaced by technology.

Attorney-General Christian Porter said modernised laws would govern electronic surveillance activities.

"This will be one of the biggest national security legislative projects in recent history - requiring the repeal and rewriting of nearly 1000 pages of laws," he said.

He said the report found key principles underpinning Australia's intelligence and security legislation were sound and enduring.

"The government's response to the Richardson Review lays out a pathway for the evolution, rather than revolution, of Australia's intelligence and security agencies," Mr Porter said.

The government also agreed to implementing a new framework for ASIO's offshore activities in order to strengthen ministerial accountability.

More oversight will be included in intelligence legislation and emergency warrants streamlined.

An independent panel will be established to provide assistance to the inspector-general of intelligence and security.

The new electronic surveillance laws will replace acts dealing with telecommunications, device surveillance and ASIO's powers.

The government has agreed to 186 of the 190 unclassified recommendations.

Mr Richardson also produced a classified version of the report.

Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton, who is responsible for domestic security agencies, said legislated powers must keep up with new technologies in order to keep people safe.

"The threat of violent extremists is still with us. These people are still plotting and planning to kill Australians and we need to make sure that legislation we have in place is fit for purpose," he told reporters in Canberra.

Australian Associated Press