The New South Wales Council for Civil Liberties (CCL) condemns pressure from Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton on the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security (PJCIS) to rush its review into the Telecommunication and Other Legislation Amendment (Assistance and Access) Bill 2018.
On 20 September, the Assistance and Access Bill was referred to PJCIS. Submissions to the Inquiry closed on 12 October, and public hearings into the bill are set to continue to 4 December. The purpose of the bill is to enable police and intelligence agencies to undermine the privacy protections of encryption. Media reports indicate that Dutton wrote to PJCIS, urging it to “accelerate its consideration of this vital piece of legislation to enable its passage by the parliament before it rises for the Christmas break."
CCL President Pauline Wright said “We commend the Chair and Deputy Chair of PJCIS for defending their role and schedule on this bill. Though the bill would gravely undermine the digital and privacy rights of all Australians, the Department of Home Affairs has tried to ram this bill through parliament without proper scrutiny, let alone meaningful consultations.”
“In mid-August, the Department released the draft bill, which ran to some 300 pages with the explanatory document. Submissions on the bill closed in about 3 weeks, and just eight days later the bill was approved by the Coalition party room, to be introduced to parliament virtually unchanged. It appears that Mr Dutton regards privacy concerns and meaningful consultations as a pesky distraction from the work of protecting Australians. In fact, as Australians, we deserve to have both our safety and our fundamental civil liberties protected. We support PJCIS completing a thorough and comprehensive review of the bill. This is the only way to ensure that all concerns are properly taken into account, and the best way to ensure that appropriate amendments can be made,” said Wright.
Contacts in relation to this statement:
0418 292 656
Dr Lesley Lynch
Vice President NSWCCL
Convenor of National Security and Counter Terrorism Action Group