Wednesday, 06 February 2019 05:15

Dreyfus expects govt to keep word on encryption law amendments Featured

Mark Dreyfus: "We expect this matter to be dealt with in the first sitting fortnight of Parliament this year." Mark Dreyfus: "We expect this matter to be dealt with in the first sitting fortnight of Parliament this year." Supplied

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.

Shadow Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus told iTWire in response to queries that Labor was looking forward to government support for the amendments to be passed speedily.

He was reacting to a report by the website InnovationAus that Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton had stopped any move to deal with the amendments before the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security submitted its report from an ongoing review on 3 April.

Dutton's reported move comes in the wake of the Department saying in a submission to the ongoing inquiry that all 17 amendments proposed by the PJCIS have been implemented.

That would mean the amendments could not be considered by the current Parliament given the timetable, and would have to be dealt with by the Parliament elected in the next Federal Election which is expected in May.

The encryption law, officially known as the Telecommunications and Other Legislation Amendment (Assistance and Access) Act 2018), was passed on 6 December, but just 12 days later, the PJCIS said it would begin a fresh review.

The new review has asked for submissions and will submit a report by 3 April.

Dreyfus told iTWire: "As Labor pointed out last year, further amendments to the Telecommunications and Other Legislation Amendment (Assistance and Access) Act 2018 are needed to fulfil the bipartisan recommendations of the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security report published in December.

"The government has agreed to allow time for debate on amendments that are consistent with the report, and we look forward to their support. We expect this matter to be dealt with in the first sitting fortnight of Parliament this year."

The encryption bill was passed without any amendments due to there being a lack of time for Labor to add any amendments in the Senate last year. Labor leader Bill Shorten agreed to this compromise 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. This delay was in order to prevent it going back to the lower house for a vote.

The recommendations made by the PJCIS resulted in some 50 pages of amendments.

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Sam Varghese

Sam Varghese has been writing for iTWire since 2006, a year after the site came into existence. For nearly a decade thereafter, he wrote mostly about free and open source software, based on his own use of this genre of software. Since May 2016, he has been writing across many areas of technology. He has been a journalist for nearly 40 years in India (Indian Express and Deccan Herald), the UAE (Khaleej Times) and Australia (Daily Commercial News (now defunct) and The Age). His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.

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