Thursday, 26 March 2015
Telecommunications (Interception and Access) Amendment (Data Retention) Bill 2015; In Committee
I indicate my support for Senator Xenophon's amendment. It is well known in free speech circles that 35P went too far, even to the extent that the member for Grayndler, Mr Albanese, wrote in the public forum to that effect. Free speech advocates including Bret Walker, Professor George Williams and Tim Wilson, amongst others, have expressed concerns about 35P. The distinction that Senator Xenophon's amendment makes is between recklessness and intention, and I think the amendment brings it back into the realm of intention in an appropriate fashion. There are safeguards in it to protect ASIO personnel, and the grave danger here is that, as we almost did with the torture issue, we would be giving cover for misbehaviour by ASIO agents that, if it was reported, if it was brought to the public's attention, would constitute a crime, so it would be a crime to report what ought to be a crime.
Senator Xenophon's amendment nominates what would be in the public interest and what it would not be a crime to report, which includes maladministration, an abuse of public trust, an officer of a public agency abusing his or her position and action which gives a reasonable ground for disciplinary action. I think the amendment is appropriate and ought to be adopted.