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Monday, 29 November 2004
Page: 84

Senator LUDWIG (5:43 PM) —I wish to seek clarification from Senator Greig on a couple of points. Perhaps I misheard him. If Senator Brown would allow me to ensure that Senator Greig does hear it, the question that I have relates to proposed section 17A `Annual report by minister about warrants'. Does proposed section 17A relate only to ASIO or is it about warrants, including search warrants and interception warrants? Does proposed section 17B then include all organisations that access and can access the information under this legislation? Is it simply aimed only at ASIO in relation to their telecommunications interception warrants, or is it broader? Does it include all warrants, such as search warrants that might be conducted under the telecommunications interception legislation? I am not clear.

You were referring more specifically to ASIO than the broader agencies. Of course there are other agencies, including ASIC, that can also access search warrants. The Australian Federal Police can also and, as you know, there is a debate about whether they can get access under section 3L of the Crimes Act. But that is for another time. More broadly, I think the purpose of the amendment is to seek greater and open scrutiny of the operation of this legislation. We have not opposed a 12-month sunset provision but these sorts of issues are, in the view of the Labor Party, better dealt with by an independent review during the whole process. There might be better ways—and ways that I cannot imagine—whereby we can ensure that there is better, appropriate and proper scrutiny.

Not only that, the Privacy Commissioner has a role as well. I think I referred in my speech on the second reading that the Privacy Commissioner—which is part of the Attorney-General's agency—has a role to play in ensuring that these matters are audited and that they are properly held to account for their actions. I did not want to second-guess what the review might come up with and what scrutiny or accountability mechanisms they might wish to impose as well during that period. Therefore, Labor are not minded to support the amendment on that basis. The minister has given a commitment that there will be a review of the legislation.