Senate debates

Tuesday, 18 June 2013



4:04 pm

Photo of Scott LudlamScott Ludlam (WA, Australian Greens) Share this | | Hansard source

I move:

That the Senate—

(a) notes:

(i) revelations that the PRISM program has been used by the United States of America's National Security Agency to conduct warrantless real time surveillance via the servers of nine companies, including Apple, Microsoft, Google and Facebook,

(ii) recent reports suggesting that Australian agencies are receiving information through the PRISM program to access emails, audio and video chats, photographs, documents, connection logs and location data of Australians, and

(iii) that strong concerns have been expressed by the United Kingdom's Intelligence and Security Committee, Canada's Privacy Commissioner, Jennifer Stoddart, and the German Minister of Justice, Sabine Leutheusser Schnarrenberger; and

(b) calls on the Attorney General (Mr Dreyfus) to table in Parliament a ministerial statement of explanation before Thursday, 20 June 2013 on the vulnerability of Australian legislated privacy protections and government information to PRISM.

I seek leave to make a brief statement.

Photo of Stephen ParryStephen Parry (Tasmania, Liberal Party) Share this | | Hansard source

Leave is granted for one minute.

Photo of Scott LudlamScott Ludlam (WA, Australian Greens) Share this | | Hansard source

I am happy to be contradicted by the whips, but I understand that neither the government nor the opposition will be supporting this motion, so I just want to indicate what it does. It does not actually require the government to do anything, apart from requiring the Attorney-General to make a statement to the Australian people about the degree to which Australia is implicated in the PRISM surveillance scandal that has blown up in the United States. I call on senators as strongly as I possibly can to let this motion go through so that, at the very least, we have a statement from the Attorney-General as to what is actually happening. He can choose to read in the same kind of verbal anaesthetic that we got from Senator Ludwig yesterday if he wants, but, at the very least, it is essential that as senators we hold this government to account to make a statement and put it on the public record, as is happening in parliaments, assemblies and congresses right around the world. It is not enough to pretend that this is simply going to go away.

Photo of Claire MooreClaire Moore (Queensland, Australian Labor Party) Share this | | Hansard source

The question is that the motion moved by Senator Ludlam be agreed to.