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Monday, 18 June 2012
Page: 3498

Senator BRANDIS (QueenslandDeputy Leader of the Opposition in the Senate) (20:23): The Telecommunications Interception and Other Legislation Amendment (State Bodies) Bill 2012 proposes to amend the principal act—the Telecommunications (Interception) Act—to provide for the removal of the Victorian Office of Police Integrity, which is being abolished, and the substitution of the Victorian Independent Broad-Based Anti-Corruption Commission as an authority eligible to intercept communications. In order for it to be a declared agency, the Attorney-General must be satisfied that the law of the requesting state makes provision for the agency to comply with the Telecommunications (Interception) Act's record-keeping, reporting and inspection obligations. The state must also enter into an agreement to pay all expenses associated with the issue of warrants to the agency. This bill provides for Victoria to legislate for a public interest monitor, which will be given specific oversight functions. These include a power to question officers of agencies and to make submissions on any application for a warrant by a declared agency. The bill also makes consequential amendments to the Taxation Administration Act 1953, the Privacy Act 1998 and the Crimes Act 1914 to substitute the Victorian Independent Broad-Based Anti-Corruption Commission for the Office of Police Integrity in those statutes. The Victorian government supports these measures. As the opposition has been advised, the government is introducing amendments to make similar changes in respect of its new independent commission against corruption.

The opposition will support this bill and the government amendments. The interception of telecommunications is an important weapon in the fight against serious and organised crime. This bill enables Victorian agencies to use that weapon and harmonises their regime with the oversight arrangements in use in other states, avoiding constitutional complications.