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Thursday, 14 May 2009
Page: 2848

Senator STEPHENS (Parliamentary Secretary for Social Inclusion and Parliamentary Secretary for the Voluntary Sector) (12:55 PM) —I thank Senator Ludlum for those comments and I thank other senators for their contributions to this debate on the Telecommunications Interception Legislation Amendment Bill (No. 2) 2008. This is a very important bill in ensuring that law enforcement agencies can protect the safety and security of Australians wherever they live. As Senator Ludlum pointed out, currently, Queensland is the only jurisdiction whose agencies cannot seek or execute an interception warrant. So the passage of this bill will clear the way for Queensland to enact legislation that satisfies the accountability obligations set out in the Telecommunications (Interception and Access) Act 1979 and, importantly, by recognising a role for the Public Interest Monitor in this act, Queensland will be able to legislate an oversight role for that body without conflicting with the Commonwealth act.

The bill maintains the integrity of the interception regime by prescribing a role for the Public Interest Monitor that recognises its importance to the oversight of police activities in Queensland while respecting the independence and integrity of the decision makers as currently set out in the act. So the government is looking forward to receiving further advice from Queensland regarding the passage of complementary legislation which was introduced into the Queensland parliament on 22 April this year.

This bill facilitates a truly national telecommunications interception regime and is a further step in the ongoing modernisation of Australia’s interception laws for law enforcement and national security purposes. I commend the bill to the Senate.

Question agreed to.

Bill read a second time.