Govt names new national security law watchdog

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Govt names new national security law watchdog

Appoints former NSW Supreme Court judge.

The Government has appointed a former NSW Supreme Court judge to be Australia's new overseer of national security and terror legislation.

The Coalition has been under increasing pressure to permanently fill the role of Independent National Security Monitor, which has been sitting vacant since former monitor Bret Walker came to the end of his three-year tenure in April.

The Government in March announced it would disband the position as part of its package of red tape repeal initiatives, but later reversed the decision after it introduced several new significant national security laws.

Roger Gyles, a former NSW Supreme Court judge with over 30 years in the legal profession, will fill the role immediately and start his tenure by examining the federal government's new counter terrorism legislation, Prime Minister Tony Abbott announced today.

His position will be considered as acting until the appointment is approved by the Governor-General.

In the meantime, Gyles will be tasked with examining whether the Government's counter-terrorism laws impact on journalists' ability to report on secret intelligence operations.

"Gyles’ experience will equip him well for the important task of monitoring complex national security legislation," Abbott said in a statement.

Greens MP Penny Wright last week introduced a bill aiming to shore up the security of the Independent National Security Monitor, by legislating that the statutory position is never vacant and always funded.

The bill also attempts to increase the monitor's powers of review - it states that the INSLM can review proposed or draft legislation, not just bills that have already passed into law.

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