Senate debates

Thursday, 30 March 2006

Telecommunications (Interception) Amendment Bill 2006

In Committee

10:51 am

Photo of Natasha Stott DespojaNatasha Stott Despoja (SA, Australian Democrats) Share this | Hansard source

I am not talking about harm. The bill provides for civil remedies if there is an aggrieved person. I am wondering how that person finds out that they are aggrieved or that some harm has been done to them. What I am tackling in this amendment is the issue of notification that a warrant has been issued. If the minister is aware of the specifics of the amendment dealing with the subject of the warrant to be notified, he will notice that it says:

(2)  Subsection (1) does not apply in relation to a warrant where, in the opinion of the chief officer, notification would prejudice the investigation in relation to which the warrant is sought.

(3)  If subsection (2) applies, then the chief officer must notify the person in respect of whom a stored communications warrant is issued of the existence of the warrant immediately once such notification would not longer prejudice the investigation.

That is built in. The minister says the ‘guts’ of this is a problem—letting people know. But there are safeguards in here. There are provisos to allow for notification that ensure that there is no material harm to the investigation.

I am not talking about penalties or harm. The bill provides for that; the bill provides for people who are aggrieved to seek civil remedies. I want to know how someone can find out that they can even access those civil remedies. How do they know that a warrant has been issued against them? When do you tell them? That is the substance of this amendment. It is not supposed to ‘gut’ the bill; it is not supposed to ‘gut’ the investigation; it is supposed to inform someone against whom a warrant has been issued. That can be done at a time that does not prejudice the investigation.

It seems very bizarre to me to have a bill that provides for civil remedies if you have been aggrieved as a consequence of having a warrant issued against you when you cannot know that a warrant has been issued. I am dealing with the specific issue of notification.

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