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Wednesday, 22 August 2012
Page: 6059

Senator LUDLAM (Western Australia) (12:03): In case this exchange between Senator Brandis and me is having the impact of moving the government towards the position of supporting our amendments, I will put a few brief remarks before I seek the views of the minister.

I would like to call Senator Brandis on two inaccuracies in the comments that he just made; they are subtle but I believe they are important. Firstly, Senator Brandis, you referred to the prosecution or the investigation, if you will, of cybercrime. That is one of the things I referred to last night in my speech in the second reading debate. This bill has nothing to do with cybercrime. This bill is about any kind of crime that happens to involve some communications aspect. For this bill to be invoked there needs to be some element of telecommunications, but it is not at all just about the prosecution of cybercrime. This is not about data theft or hacking or identity theft or using the internet to do terrible things. This is about prosecution of anything at all in which any kind of telecommunications device might be involved. So it is significantly broader, I believe, than the bill title would lead a casual observer to suggest.

The second matter, which I think is probably much more substantive, is that I am not at all proposing—and these amendments would not give effect to this—that a country that invokes the death penalty on its own citizens will not have any cooperation from Australia. We are not saying that at all. We are saying that, investigation by investigation, if a matter for which capital penalties apply is being prosecuted and our assistance is being sought, we would seek a written undertaking from that foreign jurisdiction that capital punishment will not be sought in that individual instance. So this is not a blanket approach; this is a very, very targeted approach. We would cooperate with all jurisdictions that are signatories to the convention, as is the intention of the act, whether they murder their own citizens or not. But in the instance that a capital penalty may be applied and Australian assistance is being sought, we want a written undertaking for that one instance, case by case.

I want to lay those two potential misconceptions to rest in your mind, Senator Brandis, in the hope that it might perhaps persuade you to bring your coalition over the line to vote with the Australian Greens when we put these amendments to the vote.