Thursday, 26 March 2015
Telecommunications (Interception and Access) Amendment (Data Retention) Bill 2015; In Committee
No I do not, and he could not be. Let me explain very simply why he could not be. The activity about which Mr Stewart reported was the execution of a search warrant, it was not a special intelligence operation. ASIO does not need and has never needed a special intelligence operation authorisation to execute a search warrant. In fact, the search warrant powers of ASIO I think have been powers of ASIO since the original ASIO Act of 1955. ASIO was created in 1949 but it was put on a statutory footing I think in 1955. If Mr Stewart was apprehensive that that was so, Mr Stewart is wrong, and the example Senator Xenophon gives is wrong. If that is what concerns you, I can relieve your concerns entirely. Section 35P does not apply to search warrants.
The other example you give, Senator Xenophon, is wrong too. You refer to allegations in relation to spying on East Timor. These are only allegations. But the allegations are in relation to ASIS, the Australian Secret Intelligence Service. Whether those allegations be true or false, this is about ASIO. So, with the two examples you give, one is about the wrong agency and the other is about the wrong procedure. Section 35P applies to neither.