Senate debates

Tuesday, 28 March 2006

Telecommunications (Interception) Amendment Bill 2006

In Committee

10:27 pm

Photo of Joe LudwigJoe Ludwig (Queensland, Australian Labor Party, Manager of Opposition Business in the Senate) Share this | Hansard source

by leave—I move opposition amendments (1) and (19) on sheet 4882:

(1)    Page 3 (after line 8), after clause 3, add:

4 Sunset clause

The amendments set out in Schedule 2 of this Act cease to be in force on 30 June 2011.

(19)  Schedule 2, page 63 (after line 30), at the end of the Schedule, add:

14 After section 61A

Insert:

61C Review of operation of B-party warrants

        (1)    The Minister must cause an independent review of the operation of warrants to which subparagraph 46(1)(d)(ii) or (1)(a)(ia) applies to be undertaken within 12 months of the third anniversary of the commencement of the Telecommunications (Interception) Amend-ment Act 2006.

        (2)    A person who undertakes such a review must give the Minister a written report.

        (3)    The Minister must cause a copy of the report of the review to be tabled in each House of the Parliament within 5 sitting days after the Minister receives the report.

I move these amendments together because they relate to sunset and review, or review and sunset as the case may be, so it is more appropriate to deal with them together. A range of submitters suggested that the legislation should be reviewed after a period of time and/or that the inclusion of a sunset clause was necessary. In fact the Law Council themselves indicated during the committee process—in their submission and in their oral evidence to the committee—that an independent review two or three years after commencement, and a sunset clause, should be incorporated into the legislation.

Mr Blunn, in the Blunn review, recognised that there was a strong case for regular reviews at three-yearly intervals. In fact, he went a bit further and even proposed effectively, in my words, a standing committee. We think at this juncture a sunset provision to ensure that the legislation is reviewed and, given the nature of it—particularly the way B-party provisions would operate—is a necessity, and we see no reason why the government cannot adopt this provision. It is not technical in nature; it is one that the government has recognised in other legislation of this type. It is one that they have, in fact, embodied in other legislation of this type themselves, in the criminal area, in dealing with terrorist legislation and in other areas of that ilk. And, of course, Dr Clapham from the Office of the Privacy Commissioner supported a review. In fact, he went to the entire act and felt that provisions should be made in these amendments.

The legislation committee recommended the B-party provisions expire in five years with a review at an earlier time encompassing the broader issues about the suitability of issuing authorities. They are matters that should be dealt with. The committee made those recommendations after hearing the evidence of a range of submitters. The government should be persuaded by the force of a unanimous committee. I should say it was a majority committee, at least between government and opposition. I neglected to admit there was another report but I am sure you will go to that, Senator Stott Despoja. In a majority report dealing with these issues the committee accordingly recommended that the B-party provisions expire in five years, with a review at an earlier time.

Labor supports this recommendation for two reasons. This bill does not bring about the full recommendations of the Blunn report. We are still to see that finalised and, in fact, it is likely to take some time. Therefore, as we will be revisiting this bill, it does obviously provide us with an opportunity to also be able to review it as well. As the B-party intercept regime will be a new component of the legislation it is important that it is also reviewed to see if the regime is meeting the issues that have been raised—that is, it is meeting privacy concerns, that the safeguards that surround those privacy issues are working and that law enforcement agencies are not over-reaching in the B-party intercepts regime. For those reasons Labor supports the amendments and seeks that the government agree that they are both necessary to ensure that the legislation will, in fact, work the way it was intended.

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