Senate debates

Thursday, 26 March 2015


Telecommunications (Interception and Access) Amendment (Data Retention) Bill 2015; In Committee

1:41 pm

Photo of George BrandisGeorge Brandis (Queensland, Liberal Party, Attorney-General) Share this | Hansard source

I am sorry—the public interest advocate; I was thinking of the states. The elements of the public interest, which are anatomised in proposed subparagraph (b) of subsection (2) put first and foremost the interest in the protection of privacy. That is appropriate. And that will protect journalists and their sources. That is an indication, a direction, to the public interest advocate to have that in mind. But also, the public interest is defined in terms of the gravity of the matter in relation to which the warrant is sought, the extent to which the information or the documents would be likely to assist in the performance of ASIO's functions, and other matters as well. So the public interest advocate certainly is there to protect journalists, but that is an incorrectly narrow conception of the public interest advocate's role. The public interest advocate's role is to protect the public interest. The 'public interest' is defined by the bill. The rights of journalists and the protection of privacy are one of those public interests, but they are not the only one.


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