Wednesday, 5 December 2018
Questions without Notice
My question is to the minister representing the Attorney-General, Senator Cash. Late yesterday evening it was reported that the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security had struck a compromise deal on the Telecommunications and Other Legislation Amendment (Assistance and Access) Bill 2018, yet there is still no publicly available information on the substance of this deal. The Department of Home Affairs has received over 15,000 submissions on this bill, yet the government endorsed it and subsequently introduced it without change, referring it to the intelligence and security committee. The committee has received hundreds of submissions speaking to the critical failings of the bill and the consequences, intended or otherwise, of it, yet there have been no significant changes made. When will the details of the deal struck be made publicly available?
I thank Senator Steele-John for the question. Senator Steele-John, in relation to your question, I am going to have to seek instructions from the Attorney-General. Obviously, he is the person aware of any details. I will do that and see if I can revert to you.
A joint submission to the committee from the Communications Alliance, the Australian Industry Group and others echoed the concerns of many of the Australian tech sector, stating that the draft bill poses a real risk to the IT communications export industry, which is worth $3.2 billion. What does the government have to say to tech companies operating in Australia who believe that the threat of this bill will force them to go overseas?
I'm glad to know he's such an expert! In a statement earlier this week, the President of the Senate warned that this bill could have unintended consequences and flagged concerns regarding the potential erosion of parliamentary privilege. Why has the government ignored these concerns when they have been raised by such prominent members of their own administration, such as the President of this place?
The government has not ignored concerns. The government takes advice from its intelligence committees and those who work in those offices. We take it seriously and we respond appropriately.