Thursday, 30 March 2006
Telecommunications (Interception) Amendment Bill 2006
The government is opposed to this amendment. In relation to the use of equipment, it is obvious that times are changing and that the environment we work in involves high technology. The Blunn report did allude to the use of equipment intercepts and equipment warrants. That was touched on in the answer I gave earlier to Senator Stott Despoja. I think to ignore this fact would be negligent in the circumstances. We use a warrant for intercepting telephone conversations. We have been doing that for many years, in quite appropriate circumstances. We now have to expand this in the modern day environment in which we find ourselves to meet modern technological and IT demands.
This is a very serious bill. It does have serious measures—that is not denied. But it is, after all, dealing with serious crime in this country and the threat of terrorism, which are in themselves some of the most serious issues facing modern Australia. If we are not up to the task and we do not provide these measures for our law enforcement and intelligence agencies then we will fail. I think the community would expect us to be doing this.
We have the safeguards, which I have mentioned, in the legislation, and we will continue to monitor this. Earlier there was some suggestion that law enforcement may abuse its position. We have introduced just this week legislation for an anticorruption law enforcement integrity commissioner and commission to back him or her up in this task to ensure that the office of law enforcement is not abused. I can understand the concerns that Senator Stott Despoja has expressed, but the government believes that if it were not to continue on this path in relation to matching emerging technologies it would be negligent.