In the submission, Home Affairs claimed the new powers in the Telecommunications and Other Legislation Amendment (Assistance and Access) Act 2018 — which is being referred to as the TOLA Act — were already being used by law enforcement and national security agencies to support their work.
"The Department understands that Commonwealth law enforcement and national security agencies have used the powers in the Act to support operations and investigations. The Department refers to the submissions from agencies for further details on the use of the powers," the submission said.
However the only other submission received from a government agency as of today is from the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation – which states that its contents are confidential and only viewable by the PJCIS.
A majority of the submissions made when the draft bill was released and when the PJCIS was holding meetings last year were all highly critical of the bill.
The amendments could not be voted on before the bill was passed as the House had already risen for the day. Labor leader Bill Shorten agreed to pass the bill, on the proviso that the amendments would be passed during the first sitting of 2019.
The lack of time came about because the government delayed voting on another bill in the Senate – a cross-party push to amend existing legislation on moving refugees from Manus Island and Nauru to the mainland. The delay was a tactic adopted in order to prevent the bill going back to the lower house for a vote.