Senate debates

Thursday, 30 March 2006

Telecommunications (Interception) Amendment Bill 2006

In Committee

11:57 am

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

I will clarify. They are all B-party amendments. The running sheet does not reflect them in the way it should. They all relate to improving the position, they come from the committee report and, as I have said, they are sensible. They deserve the support of all parties in this chamber, and particularly the coalition backbench, who sat with us and saw that B-party warrants did need these protections. They do not detract from the ability of law enforcement agencies to do their work and to fight crime. They do ensure that privacy is maintained, because this is a sensitive area. It requires careful scrutiny to ensure that we get it right. I do not think in this instance that the government has got it right.

We have been talking a lot about B party. Party A is the person under criminal investigation. The B party is the nonsuspect or innocent person who might be in communication with A. You then have parties C, D, E, F and so on, who are not in communication with A when the warrant is first issued. The warrant is predicated on the basis that there is communication going on between A and B.

We need, as the law enforcement agencies have said, limited control in certain circumstances to access the communications of B, but what about C, D, E and F? These amendments ensure that there is protection for those people. When you start looking at innocent person B, where do you stop in terms of the innocent persons C, D, E, F and so on? It is so far down the line. They do require protection because of the very nature of this type of warrant. This warrant is not directed at a person who is under criminal investigation; it is directed at a person who is in communication with a person who is under criminal investigation. But C, D, E and F are being drawn into that frame, and they need not be. If they are being drawn into that frame, they need the additional protections.

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