Senate debates

Thursday, 30 March 2006

Telecommunications (Interception) Amendment Bill 2006

In Committee

10:00 am

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

We can go some of the way. The problem is in amendment (5). If you wanted to split (5) off, we would support the remainder. I think I would be inconsistent if I voted for that. I voted against your seven earlier. For the sake of consistency, I am not going to change my mind now. As for legal professional privilege, the committee report expressed a sensible procedure and a way forward for the parliament to deal with the issue under this new regime of stored communication and the other parts of the bill. It appears that in these amendments Senator Stott Despoja has tried to draw that matter from the committee report and then has added amendment (5), which deals with the seven years and which was from her dissenting report. I do not take issue with that. The Democrats are clearly, in this instance, progressing their view.

Labor has consistently said that the committee report has struck the right balance in ensuring people’s privacy and ensuring that law enforcement agencies have the requisite ability to fight crime. This is particularly necessary for crimes like drug trafficking. The law enforcement agencies were able to demonstrate during the committee process to the senators on that committee that there were circumstances where these types of matters needed to be dealt with by the law to give them the power and to clarify that law in other areas. They made their case forcefully. In terms of legal professional privilege, the Law Council and others made their case very forcefully that these protections should not be watered down unnecessarily. We think that the current bill does that. If the amendments that have been proposed by the Democrats and Labor in this area were adopted, it would create a situation where the bill would be much improved. I leave it up to you, Senator Stott Despoja. If you can separate (5) from the others I will vote for the amendments.

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