Thursday, 12 December 2013
Legal and Constitutional Affairs References Committee; Reference
That the following matter be referred to the Legal and Constitutional Affairs References Committee for inquiry and report by 10 June 2014:
Comprehensive revision of the Telecommunications (Interception and Access) Act 1979 (the Act), with regard to:
(a) the recommendations of the Australian Law Reform Commission For Your Information: Australian Privacy Law and Practice report, dated May 2008, particularly recommendation 71.2; and
(b) recommendations relating to the Act from the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security Inquiry into the potential reforms of Australia's National Security Legislation report, dated May 2013.
I will also just indicate to senators that after the voting intentions of senators are clear, I will seek leave to make a brief statement.
Question agreed to.
Mr President, I seek leave to make a brief statement.
Just before this is committed to the record, the motion is for a reference to the references committee—I am just checking again as there might be an error on today's red. I am delighted to see this reference pass the chamber. Senators will be aware that I have been attempting to have an inquiry held into the surveillance regime in Australia for months. It has never been more urgent, and I would like to acknowledge the ALP for supporting this reference. I am extremely disappointed that the government cannot see to support it.
The Secretary of the Attorney-General's Department, under the previous government and under the current government, has acknowledged that the TIA Act is hopelessly outdated and urgently in need of review. This is not a hostile reference, but it is an extremely urgent one. The TIA Act was written in 1979, well before the age of the internet—I guess you could say it was in larval form—and this was the age of the lawful warrant in which, if you needed to surveil someone's phone calls or read their emails, you needed a warrant. So I commend this resolution to the Senate and look forward to working with members from all sides on the inquiry that is so long overdue. (Time expired)