A bipartisan parliamentary committee has recommended the government’s foreign fighters bill pass but with some elements watered down
A bipartisan parliamentary committee wants the federal government to water down some measures in its controversial foreign fighters bill.
The Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security report into the Abbott government’s second tranche of national security laws, which targets foreign fighters, was handed down on Friday with 36 recommendations.
The committee recommends the bill be passed.
But it wants key elements changed including the government’s ability to declare a terrorist hotspot a “no go zone” making it potentially a crime to travel there.
Whole countries should not be declared terrorist zones only particular regions, the committee says.
Under the proposed laws people travelling to terrorism hotspots could be jailed for five years.
The government is hoping to push through the legislation when parliament resumes next week.
But critics of the legislation say the government must better explain why the changes are necessary, and have written to Attorney-General George Brandis asking for more public consultation.
The committee recommends the crime of travelling to a declared area expire two years after the next federal election in 2016.
The same time period is recommended for the expiry of preventative detention orders and tougher stop, search and seizure powers.
That would reduce the proposed sunset period of 10 years for the bill.
Privacy advocates have been concerned about the expansion of biometric data collection, as part of the bill, with the Department of Immigration to store details of millions of Australians travelling in and out of the country.
However, the committee says that should not be expanded and wants the government to conduct a privacy impact statement before trying to collect data like fingerprints and iris scans in the future.
The bill makes it a crime to advocate or encourage terrorism but serious questions have been raised about what that means.
The committee recommends the Attorney-General George Brandis clarify the definitions.