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Tuesday, 2 February 2010
Page: 17

Senator LUDLAM (1:37 PM) —I wonder whether we can be clear, from the minister’s point of view, that because this review was undertaken in 1999 it would be too hard essentially to track the whereabouts of copies of material that has been intercepted, that because it would be difficult to do there is then no requirement on agencies either to track or to destroy material that was no longer useful in the course of their investigations, that essentially there is no restriction on material that is potentially relevant to investigations or the original purpose of the interception, that those records can remain on the storage systems of these various agencies effectively in perpetuity, irrespective of their relevance to any given investigation, and can be maintained and that the government believes that is a satisfactory state of affairs.

I do not want to verbal the minister but there is no intention to revisit this issue either in the context of this bill or in any wider context. It seems to me to be a bizarre loophole to say that because it would be difficult to track there should therefore be no obligation on the agencies that are intercepting people’s personal records, people’s personal communications or any kind of data, whether it be conversations, emails, bank records, no matter what it might be. There is no requirement for the destruction of those records. I submit that if this were material that was taken out of a filing cabinet and photocopied there would be a requirement to destroy that material after it was no longer relevant. So I am wondering, first of all, why the minister believes that there should be a distinction between originals of materials and copies, because that I find unfathomable, or why there should be any difference in the way that we interpret electronic materials from the way that we would accommodate the destruction of copies of paper records once they had been seized.