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Wednesday, 11 December 2002
Page: 7693

Senator HARRIS (11:30 AM) —I rise to indicate that One Nation will also support this very important amendment because it addresses one of the public's greatest criticisms of this legislation—the government's proposal to be able to investigate a minor, initially for 48 hours, totally without the knowledge of their parents. Could you imagine the trauma suffered by the parents of a youth who may have just had an association through their schooling with other groups of people who have been out for the night, who find that they have no knowledge and no way of finding out where their child is for 48 hours? As I said, the association might just have been that the youth was down the street and was seen to be in conversation with somebody that the police or ASIO had under surveillance. That person may then be detained under warrant. It is totally unacceptable. As Senator Faulkner said, in criminal proceedings that same juvenile would be able to have a parent there, and, if I am correct in repeating what Senator Faulkner said, could only be held for two hours. I believe that that is appropriate.

I would like to direct a question to the Minister for Justice and Customs. It is reasonably common knowledge that ASIO, the Federal Police et cetera have the ability to intercept phone calls. Does the government have the same ability to intercept text messages? This becomes very important when you consider that our youth of today are extremely adept at using this method of communication. Rather than taking a young person into custody for interrogation, if the government does have the ability to intercept text messages, it probably has a more efficient way of knowing what is happening amongst this younger group of Australians. Before I continue with my remarks, could we have an indication from the minister whether surveillance of text messages is technically possible—that is, messages between mobile phones, towers and the recipient?