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Thursday, 28 August 2008
Page: 6605

Mr CIOBO (10:00 AM) —I rise this morning on behalf of the shadow minister for justice and border protection, the member for Sturt, to talk about the Telecommunications Interception Legislation Amendment Bill 2008. I am pleased to indicate on behalf of the opposition that we will be supporting this legislation. The bill is intended to amend the Telecommunications (Interception and Access) Act 1979 and the Surveillance Devices Act 2004 to ensure that officeholders can validly authorise officers to act on their behalf in performing functions under those acts. The full Federal Court in Hong Kong Bank of Australia Ltd v Australian Securities Commission 1992 held that a provision of the Corporations Law that defined a prescribed person to include a person authorised by the commission to perform certain functions could not be construed so as to confer the power to make the initial authorisation.

The acts to be amended include definitions of ‘certifying officer’, ‘certifying person’ and ‘member of the staff of a Commonwealth royal commission’ who may be authorised to perform functions under the acts. There is some uncertainty as to whether those definitions might fall foul of the rules of construction as propounded in the Hong Kong Bank case. The bill seeks to amend the acts to include specific powers to authorise the relevant persons to perform the defined functions. The bill also makes some technical amendments to maintain the currency of the telecommunications interception and access regime and to support the new Victorian Office of Police Integrity.

This bill seeks to maintain the status quo under the acts as currently understood and to make minor technical amendments. I am therefore able to indicate, as I mentioned, that the opposition will be supporting this legislation. Had I been the principal shadow minister, my remarks would have been much more comprehensive; but I note that the government member is now in the chamber, so I will leave the balance of the remarks to him.