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- Start of Business
- SPECIAL ADJOURNMENT
- MEDICAL INDEMNITY AMENDMENT BILL 2004
- MEDICAL INDEMNITY (IBNR INDEMNITY) CONTRIBUTION AMENDMENT BILL 2004
- EXTENSION OF SUNSET OF PARLIAMENTARY JOINT COMMITTEE ON NATIVE TITLE BILL 2004
- INTERNATIONAL TRANSFER OF PRISONERS AMENDMENT BILL 2004
- TELECOMMUNICATIONS (INTERCEPTION) AMENDMENT BILL 2004
- CUSTOMS TARIFF AMENDMENT (PARAQUAT DICHLORIDE) BILL 2004
- AUSTRALIAN SPORTS DRUG AGENCY AMENDMENT BILL 2004
- HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES (NORTHERN TERRITORY REPRESENTATION) BILL 2004
- TRADE PRACTICES AMENDMENT (PERSONAL INJURIES AND DEATH) BILL (NO. 2) 2004
- TAX LAWS AMENDMENT (2004 MEASURES NO. 1) BILL 2004
- MIGRATION AMENDMENT (DURATION OF DETENTION) BILL 2004
- A NEW TAX SYSTEM (COMMONWEALTH-STATE FINANCIAL ARRANGEMENTS) AMENDMENT BILL 2003
APPROPRIATION BILL (NO. 3) 2003-04
APPROPRIATION BILL (NO. 4) 2003-04
APPROPRIATION (PARLIAMENTARY DEPARTMENTS) BILL (NO. 2) 2003-04
APPROPRIATION BILL (NO. 4) 2003-04
QUESTIONS WITHOUT NOTICE
Social Welfare: Parental Responsibility Orders
(Latham, Mark, MP, Howard, John, MP)
Middle East: Israeli-Palestinian Conflict
(Smith, Anthony, MP, Howard, John, MP)
(Latham, Mark, MP, Vale, Danna, MP)
Trade: Free Trade Agreement
(Ciobo, Steven, MP, Downer, Alexander, MP)
Banking: National Australia Bank
(Crean, Simon, MP, Costello, Peter, MP)
Trade: Free Trade Agreement
(Gambaro, Teresa, MP, Vaile, Mark, MP)
Violence Against Women
(Roxon, Nicola, MP, Howard, John, MP)
(Billson, Bruce, MP, Costello, Peter, MP)
Trade: Banana Industry
(Katter, Bob, MP, Howard, John, MP)
(Farmer, Patrick, MP, Costello, Peter, MP)
Liberal Party of Australia: Funding
(Zahra, Christian, MP, Howard, John, MP)
(Hartsuyker, Luke, MP, Abbott, Tony, MP)
(Rudd, Kevin, MP, Howard, John, MP)
(Thompson, Cameron, MP, Downer, Alexander, MP)
Education: University Fees
(Macklin, Jenny, MP, Nelson, Dr Brendan, MP)
Australian Labor Party: Centenary House
(Somlyay, Alex, MP, Abbott, Tony, MP)
Telstra: Media Ownership
(Tanner, Lindsay, MP, Howard, John, MP)
Employment: Mutual Obligation
(Ticehurst, Kenneth, MP, Brough, Mal, MP)
Employment: Job Network
(Albanese, Anthony, MP, Brough, Mal, MP)
Small Business: Insurance
(Ley, Sussan, MP, Hockey, Joe, MP)
- Social Welfare: Parental Responsibility Orders
- QUESTIONS WITHOUT NOTICE: ADDITIONAL ANSWERS
- QUESTIONS TO THE SPEAKER
- PERSONAL EXPLANATIONS
- MINISTERIAL STATEMENTS
- MATTERS OF PUBLIC IMPORTANCE
West, Mr Arthur John
Dolan, Mr Michael
- Education: Funding
- Crosio, Mrs Janice
- Macarthur Electorate
- Telstra: Media Ownership
- Regional Partnerships Program
- Sir Edward Braddon Memorial Week
- West, Mr Arthur John
- Start of Business
- STATEMENTS BY MEMBERS
- Legal Aid: Funding
- Education: Higher Education Contribution Scheme
- McMillan Electorate: Pakenham Bypass
- Environment: Kurnell Peninsula
- Finance: Lending
- Fuel: Ethanol
- Telstra: Staffing
- Foreign Affairs: Gallipoli Peace Park
- Wills Electorate: Aged Care
- Australian Defence Force: Water Strategy
- Child Care
- Hinkler Electorate: Barry Hough
- QUESTIONS ON NOTICE
Thursday, 19 February 2004
Mr RUDDOCK (Attorney-General) (9:19 AM) —I move:
That this bill be now read a second time.
This bill amends the Telecommunications (Interception) Act 1979 to ensure the ongoing effectiveness of the Australian telecommunications interception regime.
Telecommunications interception is an essential tool in investigating serious and organised crime and in gathering security intelligence.
The government is committed to ensuring that the interception act keeps pace with developments in telecommunications technology, and allows law enforcement and security agencies to combat increasingly sophisticated criminal activity and threats to national security.
To that end the bill clarifies the application of the act to email and similar communications, and allows telecommunications interception warrants to be sought in connection with the investigation of a wider range of serious offences, including terrorism offences.
The bill includes amendments to allow recording of calls to ASIO—our domestic security agency—public lines to assist in the effective investigation of security matters.
The bill also amends the definition of interception to ensure that the protections conferred by the interception act keep up with technological developments.
The change to the definition of interception is a result of recent advances in technology, many communications passing over the telecommunications system now take the form of written words or images, to which the current definition of interception is not directly applicable.
The bill will amend the definition of interception to include reading and viewing, as well as listening to and recording, a communication in its passage over the telecommunications system.
The amendment will ensure that the protections afforded by the act extend to all forms of communication passing over the Australian telecommunications system. I am sure, Mr Speaker, you are familiar with the text messaging that we see on telephones today; it is that particular medium that we have in mind here, as well as emails.
The bill also amends the interception act to allow law enforcement agencies to obtain warrants to assist in the investigation of terrorist offences set out in divisions 72, 101, 102 and 103 of the Commonwealth Criminal Code, offences involving dealings in firearms and state and territory cybercrime offences.
The Criminal Code sets out a range of terrorism offences attracting penalties up to life imprisonment, including terrorist bombings, providing or receiving training connected with terrorist acts, directing the activities of a terrorist organisation, and providing or collecting funds in connection with a terrorist act.
The amendments arm law enforcement agencies with the necessary tools to investigate all the terrorism offences set out in the Criminal Code.
This amendment supplements the existing definition of a class 1 offence, which allows a telecommunications interception warrant to be sought in connection with the investigation of offences involving an act or acts of terrorism.
Amendments to allow interception warrants to be sought in connection with a broader range of terrorism offences reflect the Government's ongoing commitment to combating terrorism.
The bill will also enable interception warrants to be sought in connection with state and territory cybercrime offences.
This amendment complements existing provisions allowing interception warrants to be sought in connection with the investigation of Commonwealth cybercrime offences set out in the Criminal Code.
The ability to lawfully intercept telecommunications is an essential tool in the investigation of computer crime.
Computer crime commonly involves extensive use and abuse of the telecommunications system.
The effective investigation and prosecution of the perpetrators of these offences often depends on access to electronic communications.
Finally, the bill will also strengthen the act by enabling interception warrants to be sought in connection with the investigation of dealings in firearms, in circumstances where the commission of the offence involves substantial planning and organisation, sophisticated methods and techniques and is punishable by a maximum of at least seven years imprisonment.
These amendments recognise the seriousness of the trade in firearms, and provide law enforcement with the necessary tools to investigate and prosecute offenders.
The bill also amends the act to clarify its application of the act to modern means of telecommunication, such as email, SMS messaging and voice mail services.
The increasingly widespread use of this new technology by persons of interest to law enforcement and security agencies has posed serious operational difficulties for those agencies in the performance of their functions.
The amendments make it clear, for example, that it is not necessary to obtain a telecommunications interception warrant in order to access a stored communication that can be accessed using the equipment on which it is stored but without the use of a telecommunications service.
This does not mean that such communications are not protected at all.
Rather, it will be necessary to obtain some other form of lawful access, such as a search warrant authorising the holder of the warrant to operate the equipment on which the communication is stored.
The government remains committed to clarifying the act to achieve certainty in the scope and application of the act.
The amendments now proposed achieve that clarification and will assist agencies in the performance of their functions.
The amendments differ, however, from those previously introduced, and address concerns expressed during consideration of the earlier amendments by the Senate Legal and Constitutional Legislation Committee.
The amendments achieve an appropriate balance between protecting communications passing over the telecommunications system and the need for accessibility in the investigation of serious crime and security matters.
The bill also provides an exception to the prohibition against interception to allow ASIO to record calls to its public lines.
ASIO maintains a number of dedicated telephone lines, the numbers for which are publicly available in telephone directories and telephone number databases.
These public lines are frequently contacted by persons wishing to pass on information that they consider relevant to the organisation's functions.
Some of the information may be critical to the effective functioning of the organisation in collecting intelligence relevant to security.
ASIO's ability to effectively investigate matters relevant to security will depend, in part, on the availability of an accurate recording of the call.
In conclusion, the government recognises that telecommunications interception is an intrusive method of investigation and reaffirms its commitment to protecting the privacy of individuals using the Australian telecommunications system.
The amendments contained in the bill represent practical steps to ensure the ongoing effectiveness of the Australian telecommunications interception regime, and to assist in the investigation of serious criminal activity, including terrorism, cybercrime and dealings in firearms.
I commend the bill to the House and table an explanatory memorandum.
Debate (on motion by Mr Edwards) adjourned.