Thursday, 25 September 2014
National Security Legislation Amendment Bill (No. 1) 2014; In Committee
I see this as a minimalist amendment but an important one nonetheless. Senator Ludlam's amendment was defeated earlier—and I did not support it—in terms of the number of devices covered by a warrant. Senator Ludlam sought to circumscribe that. I can understand why the government and the opposition took the position that you should not do so because it could constrain, on an operational basis, the intelligence agencies from doing their work effectively. But what this amendment essentially does is require the Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security to give details in the annual report of how many devices are covered by these warrants. That is all it does. But it gives the public, the people of Australia, and this parliament an idea of how many devices have been captured by these warrants in terms of internet surveillance and surveillance of electronic devices. I think it is a reasonable transparency measure. It does not constrain or compromise any operational matters on the part of intelligence services but it does give us that glimmer of transparency that otherwise would be completely lacking in respect of the exercise of these warrants.