Calls for dedicated intelligence minister

·2-min read

The federal government should appoint a dedicated minister to handle national security threats, a new report has urged.

The paper, published on Tuesday, calls for the appointment of an intelligence minister along with reforms to parliament's intelligence and security committee.

Australian National University national security expert Dr William Stoltz said an appointment to the ministry was needed due to how security issues were handled by government.

"To keep up with today's challenges, Australia's security and intelligence agencies have been scrambling to push through a dizzying number of legislative changes, policy reviews and new funding proposals," Dr Stoltz said.

"The result is that the task of governing these agencies has become one of the most complicated commonwealth responsibilities."

Dr Stoltz said the appointment of an intelligence minister as a junior or assistant role in the ministry would help the cabinet make more informed decisions.

The call coincides with a report last month from the Australian Cyber Security Centre which found a threat was reported to the national watchdog every eight minutes.

The new report called for changes to the parliamentary joint committee on intelligence and security, along with the national security committee of cabinet.

While Dr Stoltz said the national security committee was an important mechanism for the federal government's policy, it was not able to keep up with the rapid rate of change.

"The reality is that much of the decision-making concerning intelligence and security is still diffused across multiple ministerial offices and an expanding community of agencies and departments," he said.

"There needs to be a minister who can regularly brief the public, the press, their party room, the opposition and the crossbench."

The paper said since the creation of the Home Affairs department in 2017, the country's security and intelligence community has grown to 16 different agencies.

Dr Stoltz said recent issues - including COVID-19, biosecurity threats and a technology contest between China and the west - had brought more agencies into the area of national security.

The university expert said security concerns would also play a key role in the upcoming federal election, slated to be held by May next year.

"Should Australia dip into minority government at the next election, the sway of crossbenchers will become particularly decisive on who holds government and the security laws that can pass," Dr Stoltz said.

"A minister for intelligence would therefore be an even more critical interlocutor to building consensus on national security policy amongst parliamentarians of all stripes."

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting