Senate debates

Thursday, 6 December 2018


Telecommunications and Other Legislation Amendment (Assistance and Access) Bill 2018; Second Reading

4:59 pm

Photo of Jordon Steele-JohnJordon Steele-John (WA, Australian Greens) Share this | Hansard source

I withdraw, Mr Acting Deputy President. This administration, weak, lost and frightened, understanding more clearly than any government has in the past that it is finished, that the game is up, that there will be no rescue, has turned to the only trick in the book it has left: national security. Knowing that when the Department of Home Affairs, when Mr Pezzullo and his puppet Mr Dutton say, 'Jump,' the Labor Party say, 'How high?', this opposition, obsessed as they are with victory at any and all costs, will tonight engage in the trading away of the human rights and liberties of every single Australian. No statement that is made in this place tonight, in relation to the so-called safeguards that the Labor Party have secured, will be true. They cannot be true because they do not understand the technology they are dealing with. They have spent months sitting on a committee with their fingers in their ears. With 15,000 submissions given, with some of the most reputable technical organisations in this country coming before them and pleading—pleading!—with them to reconsider, they have done nothing but craft new rhetorical mechanisms by which they, tonight, make the excuse for bending over backwards and letting this legislation pass.

It is very interesting to me that one of the amendments which finally may make its way through is one which ensures that this legislation does not apply to us here in this place, that it cannot threaten our parliamentary privilege. So it is we, in this place, who will be protected while the Australian public is placed at risk. We will keep our jobs. We will retain the ability to organise our leadership coups via whichever encrypted application we choose, safe in the knowledge that we cannot be compromised. We, in this place, may well engage in any corrupt act we so choose, and our state counterparts may well do the same, safe in the knowledge that anticorruption commissions are exempt from an ability to utilise these powers, but state police, territory police, Border Force—they're fair game; they can use them however they like.

The lies and the stupidity that have strewn forth from this opposition in the last few days beggars belief. The contributions made by members of the Labor Party in the House of Representatives were laughable and they were sickening, because they showed, for all to see, the depths to which they will stoop to avoid any possible imputation that they might do anything other than be in lock step with the government on an issue of so-called national security.

This is a piece of legislation, dreamt up by a sinister figure who brings our public service into disrepute by virtue of his very existence within it, is being pursued by a government that brings our nation into disrepute by their very existence within this place, facilitated by an opposition whose cowardice and whose intellectual vacancy is a national embarrassment.

You will go home at the end of this day to your constituencies, and you will lie in bed and disregard all that I have said. You will brush it aside as the naive ramblings of someone who needs to spend a bit longer in this place to learn how things are done. But I warn you now: there is a whole internet out there. You are being watched. The internet remembers. The betrayal will not be forgotten. The role of this government in bending to the will of one of the most sinister figures that has ever roamed the halls of this place will not be forgotten. The human rights abuses which are sure to be perpetrated by the dark creation that is the Department of Home Affairs will not be forgotten. His role in the creation of the national disgrace that is the Border Force will not be forgotten. Justice will come to every single one of you who have today facilitated the march of this man and his agenda. Border Force will be broken open. Those who have committed their crimes will be brought to justice. The department shall be broken apart, and these decrepit laws, these insults to the Australian people, shall be repealed, and all those who this day fought against them shall be vindicated.

I would ask you to reflect upon your role. I would ask you to reflect upon who it is you serve. I suggest to you that it is the Australian people you serve, not your own self-interest. It is they who will hold you to account. It is they who will bring the ultimate electoral justice down upon you for the lies that you have utilised to pass this legislation through this place.

Our political movement, the great Australian Greens party, will be there every step of the way. We will not let you forget. We will be there with the community as each and every one of the violations which you tonight unleash are brought home to roost with you. History will record this as one of the most profound failures of leadership that the Australian Labor Party has ever perpetrated. Tonight you are shamed by your actions. You are shamed by your words. And, if you can sleep, I do wonder about the content of your souls and the nature of your brains. I thank the chamber for its time.


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