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Integrity of National Security Hotline assured.



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ATTORNEY-GENERAL THE HON PHILIP RUDDOCK MP

NEWS RELEASE

18 March 2006 040/2006

INTEGRITY OF NATIONAL SECURITY HOTLINE ASSURED

Attorney-General Philip Ruddock today refuted misleading comments that proposed new interception powers could be randomly used to ‘tap’ the phones of anonymous callers to the National Security Hotline.

“Information provided to the National Security Hotline by members of the public is always treated with the strictest confidence and may be given anonymously,” Mr Ruddock said.

“The proposed new interception laws will assist law enforcement and national security agencies in targeting the communications of criminal and terrorist suspects and their associates,” he said.

Mr Ruddock said the changes to the Telecommunications (Interception) Amendment Bill 2006 were part of the Government’s ongoing commitment to providing appropriate tools to law enforcement and national security agencies to continue the fight against terrorism and serious crime.

“The laws will be available in only very limited circumstances to target the communications of terrorist or criminal suspects when all other investigative means have been exhausted,” Mr Ruddock said.

The interception of telephone conversations of a third party will be available only when an issuing authority, such as a judge, is satisfied:

• There are reasonable grounds for suspecting a particular person is using, or is likely to use, the telecommunications service; and

• the information obtained would be likely to assist in connection with the investigation of a suspected serious offence (including terrorism, murder or kidnapping); and

• the agency has exhausted all other methods of identifying the telecommunications likely to be used by the suspect.

To ensure the use of the proposed new laws is strictly limited, the issuing authority must also consider additional factors such as the impact on the privacy of any person, the gravity of the allged offences, the usefulness of the material likely to be intercepted and to what extent alternative methods of investigating the offence have been used.

Parliament House, Canberra ACT 2600 • Telephone (02) 6277 7300 • Fax (02) 6273 4102 www.law.gov.au/ag

Attorney General News Release 2

“I am satisfied the strict reporting and oversight mechanisms will ensure this additional power is used responsibly by police and agencies whose duty it is to protect our community from a terrorist attack or serious criminal activity,” Mr Ruddock said.

The legislation is the first step in implementing the recommendation of the Blunn Report to ensure the interception regime accommodates new and emerging technologies and responds to the needs of security and law enforcement agencies.

Media Contact: Charlie McKillop 0419 278 715