A year after it bent over backwards and voted to make the government's encryption bill law, the Australian Labor Party is attempting to paint itself as some kind of virtuous entity by introducing a bill to bring about amendments to that same law.
Shadow attorney-general Mark Dreyfus has slammed the Morrison Government over its tardiness in implementing amendments to the encryption law which was passed last year, saying Finance Minister Senator Mathias Cormann had agreed to do so, and has yet to keep his word nearly a year on.
Both the Federal Government and the Opposition want a law against social media to pass in a hurry so that they can brandish it during the election campaign and style themselves as firm, decisive entities that act against tech companies when needed.
Australian Greens leader Senator Richard di Natale has laid into the Labor Party for letting the encryption law pass Parliament last year, saying this had taken place despite Labor standing with the Greens and making it clear they believed the law was bad legislation.
The Federal Government will try to push amendments to the encryption law on Wednesday to give anti-corruption bodies the right to use its powers, while Labor will try to get an amendment through to define a systemic weakness.
The Australian Labor Party says it expects the matter of amendments to the encryption law passed last year will be taken up during the first sitting of Parliament this year, as agreed to by the government.
There are few things in life which are predictable. Among them are the reaction of the Australian Labor Party to national security legislation.
The Federal Government says Labor's initial suggestions about passing a cut-down version of the encryption bill were not acceptable, and a compromise announced on Tuesday had removed some of Labor's demands.
The Federal Government and the Labor Party have reportedly reached a compromise on the encryption bill and it will clear Parliament before Thursday, the last sitting day for the year.
Following disagreement between the Federal Government and the Opposition over its passage, a hearing of the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security inquiring into the encryption bill, scheduled for Tuesday, appears to have been cancelled.
The Australian Labor Party has said that it will be dissenting with the government members on the panel that is inquiring into the encryption bill. But the government says it will be pressing on and presenting the bill in Parliament next week, the last sitting week for the year.
The pressure placed on the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security to hurry up and finish its inquiry into the government's encryption bill manifested itself on Friday, with Labor Shadow Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus loudly objecting to a line of questioning adopted by Liberal Senator Jim Molan.
Rather predictably, the Australian Labor Party has signalled to the Federal Government that it will not stand in the way of the encryption bill being passed by Christmas, with the party doing everything but ending the process of inquiry so that the government can have its way.
A group of industry associations are calling for the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security not to scuttle the Parliamentary process and bow to government pressure to “wave through” the Telecommunications and Other Legislation Amendment (Assistance and Access) Bill 2018 commonly known as the encryption bill.
Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton says he wants the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security to deal with the government's encryption bill "as quickly as possible", and accused Labor Shadow Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus of delaying things and "making excuses and massaging bills down to lowest common denominator".
The Federal Government is yet to properly define in its encryption bill what a systemic weakness means, and the question came up more than once for discussion during the second hearing on the bill before the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Security and Intelligence.
The Australian Labor Party's support for the government's encryption Bill will be an indicator of whether it supports big technology companies in the US or the Australian people, Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton claims.
The Australian Labor Party has termed "unacceptable" the government's introduction of its encryption bill into Parliament on Thursday, just 10 days after public submissions to the draft ended and with no response released to stakeholders.
The Australian Labor Party appears to be hesitant about ruling out support for the government's Assistance and Access Bill, a draft of which was put up for comment on 14 August.
The Australian Labor Party has said it will wait to see the complete text of the Coalition Government's proposed law on increased identity checks at domestic airports before deciding whether to support it or not.
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