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Tuesday, 30 November 2004
Page: 24

Senator LUDWIG (1:51 PM) —Labor are not minded to support these amendments, although I do understand the speech given by Senator Greig in relation to this and the concerns he has. It comes down to the fact that in some circumstances these are operational matters. In the case of the earlier amendments and these ones, the AAT member or judge has to look at the circumstances and say, `Will this warrant stand on its own merits? Is it permissible in this circumstance to allow a surveillance device to be used?' They will weigh that up themselves without being coloured by what might have gone on before or what might be around the corner in another court. We are looking at the warrant in that instance. If there are other matters or impermissible things that might intrude then that is up to the courts themselves to determine.

The other issue that strikes me is that there may be more than one law enforcement agency interested in this individual for entirely different reasons. There may also be instances where warrants cross over. I cannot imagine those; that is why I say they are operational matters in some instances. The bill has struck that balance. The government has segmented it for those reasons, and I suspect for some others that the minister may add. You can imagine circumstances where two different law enforcement agencies might have sought warrants for surveillance devices for different purposes. The last thing they might want to be able to do is cross all that information over so that the judge becomes the depositor of all this type of information. Where that is inappropriate, the request for a warrant should stand on its own by the law enforcement agency making the application and the judge determining that accordingly.

That seems to be the logical way of dealing with it, rather than trying to draw in whatever else may have gone on before in relation to it, because it may only be for a limited period and a new warrant may be sought for the same issue that is being examined or for another issue. As I said, I think these issues draw far more detail into operational matters than the bill can look at. What the bill is designed to do is to regulate these areas to ensure that there is fairness and that the courts have a role and that warrants are provided for in a manner not unlike other warrants, because you do not want them to be in a class of their own. So I think the balance has been struck in this instance. That perhaps gives some explanation as to why Labor will not support the amendment and why, for those reasons, we have come to that conclusion.