Thursday, 26 March 2015
Telecommunications (Interception and Access) Amendment (Data Retention) Bill 2015; In Committee
Senator Ludlam, the government does not support your amendment. I should acquaint you with the fact that the Commonwealth Ombudsman was in fact closely involved in drafting these powers. These were the powers that the Ombudsman's office, as one of the integrity agencies, thought were appropriate to it to best discharge its oversight obligations—that is, the powers that are already in the bill, which your amendment would change.
Can I draw your attention, please, to paragraph 685 of the explanatory memorandum, which reads:
Under subsection 186B(2), the Ombudsman is not restricted in the frequency with which the Ombudsman may inspect the records of an agency. For example, the Ombudsman could choose inspection cycles of twelve months, six months, three months or some other period to inspect the records of any particular agency. This flexibility is intended to cater for the significant differences in the size, structure, functions, and internal systems and procedures of the various criminal law-enforcement agencies, the variable nature and flow of investigations and to ensure the new inspection regime is sufficiently responsive to differing contingencies encountered during an inspection. Depending on the circumstances, this may necessitate other adaptive approaches, including, for example, staged or rolling inspection programs, a quarter-sized inspection four times a year, or inspecting different field offices at different times if that was more convenient for the agency from an operational perspective or logistically more feasible.
So the mischief that your amendment seeks to address is already provided for by clause 186B(2) of the bill in a way which—with the advice of the Ombudsman, as the relevant integrity agency—will actually enhance rather than diminish his capacity to oversee the compliance by agencies with the provisions of this bill. I should also remind you that the intelligence agencies are subject to the Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security as well.