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Thursday, 24 June 2004
Page: 31575

Mr RUDDOCK (Attorney-General) (5:27 PM) —in reply—I wish to thank the honourable member for Barton, who I think has approached the Surveillance Devices Bill (No. 2) 2004 in a positive and—with respect—a bipartisan fashion which has put the interests and safety of the Australian public first. I also express my thanks to the Senate Legal and Constitutional Legislation Committee for its deliberations on the bill in quite a limited time frame. I wish they could always work at this speed.

This bill will put in place a very important law enforcement tool in the hands of our law enforcement agencies, both Commonwealth and state. They were anxious about this matter. The government was anxious also to facilitate it, and the bill does provide a comprehensive regime covering the use of surveillance at a Commonwealth level. The range of devices is very much wider than it has been. The range of offences has been broadened, and that is important as well. For the first time, we have a proper framework for conducting extraterritorial surveillance. The bill will provide a wide range of powers to law enforcement agencies to fight serious criminal offences, including terrorism. As always in these matters, we seek to include appropriate safeguards, as the member for Barton has noted. I again express my thanks for his cooperation and I hope that it secures the speedy passage that I think it deserves not only in this House but equally in the other place.

Question agreed to.

Bill read a second time.