Thursday, 14 November 2013
Legal and Constitutional Affairs References Committee; Reference
That the following matters be referred to the Legal and Constitutional Affairs References Committee for inquiry and report by 10 June 2014:
(a) the implications of revelations regarding surveillance of private communications and the indiscriminate interception of personal data by the US National Security Agency and other agencies for the Australian government, businesses and citizens, including risks to:
(i) Australian citizens' fundamental human right to privacy, freedom of expression, the presumption of innocence and the protection of data,
(ii) Australia's diplomatic relationships in the region, and
(iii) increased compliance costs and risks to business through the undermining of confidence in the security of commercial data and encryption standards;
(b) appropriate measures to address, mitigate or eliminate these risks; and
(c) any other relevant matters.
Our position is that national security must not become a matter for political grandstanding. The opposition welcomes discussion at any time about balancing the protection of Australians' right to privacy with national security objectives but opposes this committee reference.
I cannot let a comment like that go unchallenged. This is not about grandstanding. This is about the Australian parliament doing its job. When this legislature votes to avoid knowing what is going on, we are failing in our primary duty as a parliament. Unless you are deeply embedded in the national security state, you have no idea how deeply implicated we are in the extraordinary debacle and surveillance overreach of the United States government. The opposition have not declared their hand, but I am presuming that we do not have support from either the Labor, Liberal or National parties. You are voting to retain a blindfold. It is our job to establish what it going on. It is happening in the US Congress, in Westminster and in parliaments across Europe and South America. The people, through their representatives in elected chambers, are demanding to know what the hell is going on. Why in Australia are the two major parties embedded in this complicity of silence? We need answers now. (Time expired)