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Sep 17, 2012

Faulkner attacks vague national security proposals

A key member of the parliamentary committee examining new national security proposals around data retention has hit out at the vague nature of Nicola Roxon's proposals.

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The government’s unwillingness to provide a detailed description of its national security proposals appears to be backfiring on Attorney-General Nicola Roxon, with Labor elder John Faulkner repeatedly raising the lack of public information about the proposals that form the basis of the Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security’s inquiry into them.

The committee was tasked with investigating a suite of 44 proposals in July, but only after a tussle with the Attorney-General over timing and the preparation of a discussion paper by her department. But the 60-page discussion paper provides little explanation or justification of some of the most controversial proposals, including two-year data retention, criminalisation of refusal to assist with decryption and the extension of surveillance warrants to social media platforms.

As Crikey reported last week, this has led to the peculiar situation of more detailed information about some proposals emerging from Roxon’s letters to newspaper editors than was provided in the paper itself.

However, JCIS member John Faulkner, the only Labor Left faction member of the committee, has pointedly commented on the dearth of information at the committee’s two hearings so far. At the first committee hearing in Melbourne the week before last, Faulkner repeatedly reflected on the lack of detail around the proposal that has absorbed most of the committee’s public hearings, data retention. In discussing how a data retention scheme could be structured to address privacy concerns with representatives of the Office of the Victorian Privacy Commissioner, Faulkner noted:

“I would be the first to say that the fact that we are not dealing with draft legislation but with a discussion paper certainly makes the work of this committee harder, particularly given that our terms of reference really outline a number of different categories of consideration for the committee.”

When a witness commented on the “broad brush approach of the discussion paper”, Faulkner replied:

“We acknowledge that. We acknowledge the fact that there are even different categories of consideration that the government has given to it, even in our own terms of reference, so that is a point well made.”

When Andrew Pam of the EFA complained about the lack of  justification for the proposals, Faulkner went further:

“That is fair criticism. I have said before that there are no safeguards outlined. In fact, the detail about the proposal itself is obviously very limited.”

He then asked Pam: “Have you found generally in preparing your submission, which is very helpful from the perspective of this committee, that it is a challenge, given the lack of detail around many of the proposals?” He went on to ask:

“I would be interested in your view, first of all, about lack of detail and, secondly, the breadth and range of the issues the committee has before us. I would be interested in your perspective on how much of a challenge that was, or if you found that a challenge in developing your submission for the committee.”

Both witnesses and Faulkner contrasted the vague proposals in the discussion paper and concrete proposals in draft legislation. “It is two-and-a-half lines,” Faulkner said about data retention. “There is not a lot of certainty about what it does mean.” He then said bluntly:

“I am sick of saying that what this committee has been left with is a huge task … we would be better off if we had the government’s draft legislation or some of those proposals before us.”

Faulkner continued the complaint at last Friday’s hearings in Canberra, again noting that the proposal before the committee related to two-and-a-half lines, and quizzing telco representatives about what details a previous unreleased discussion paper from AGD about data retention had included in order to better understand the proposal.

The issue of data retention is especially vexing because of what seems to be a difference between Roxon and law enforcement agencies over the extent of the data to be retained. Roxon has twice insisted it would not extend to URL logging for IP addresses, and has preferred to use telephone examples in describing the proposal. But in August, AFP Assistant Commissioner Neil Gaughan used examples of child p-rnography, grooming and terrorism to justify data retention, all of which would be problematic without retaining the URLs visited by each IP address.

It’s also worth noting  that this has meant that a committee focused on national security and intelligence matters is being required to make an assessment about the impact of proposals on crime-fighting and law enforcement, something beyond its remit.

Faulkner’s repeated comments appear to be a clear signal to Roxon that the ill-defined nature of the proposals put forward by her department will be an impediment to the committee reaching a clear position on them.

Of equal salience is the hostility displayed to the proposals by the Coalition joint party room last week, when a dozen MPs raised concerns. Under the Howard government, Coalition MPs waved through several draconian assaults on basic liberties launched by Howard and Phillip Ruddock (who is on JCIS). In opposition, however, Liberal MPs appear to have rediscovered the meaning of their party name. Put simply, Roxon’s proposals, a difficult sell as they are now, will become politically impossible if the Coalition opposes them.

Bernard Keane — Politics Editor

Bernard Keane

Politics Editor

Bernard Keane is Crikey’s political editor. Before that he was Crikey’s Canberra press gallery correspondent, covering politics, national security and economics.

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30 thoughts on “Faulkner attacks vague national security proposals

  1. JG Downs

    No wires crossed Owen, I bunged on a bit just so I could create a context to squeeze a couple of things out…you know how it goes sometimes, you are a master at it.

    I know where you stand, but was not aware you had made the connection with the NWO great plan and the book of Revelations. I am fair dinkum smacked in the gob!!! Are you really serious or just playing with me?…again.

    The book of Revelations only made it into the bible canon because they thought nobody would ever figure it out and connect the dots of latter time events.

    The book of Daniel..”seal up the book Daniel, until the time of the end” = TBOR. Only a Remnant is going to survive all this, a residue of folk worldwide who do not take the mark of the beast or worship it’s image.

    Matthew 24: 29 and onwards is a description of the rescue of this Remnant from the clutches of the NWO anti messianic Luciferians. And note that this occurs after the Tribulation and not before as false christian doctrine would have it. They believe in a Pre-Tribulation rapture which gets them off the hook, but there is no such thing. It’s actually a khtaf, which means a “regathering” and not a rapture. This is a “regathering ” of the end time nation of Is rael which has nothing to do with bloodline or race, but a true multicultural and multinational remnant who have been plucked from the fire and rescued from the 4 corners of the earth.

    Owen, I am still smacked in the gob. ” one from a family and two from a city “

  2. Owen Gary


    The Egyptian, Summarian & Mayan have all recorded events about our current time & some historians have already cracked it but it has remained conjecture of course for the sake of the mainstream. Its a scary thing when civilisations from the past all have a prefixed warning of our present time from thousands of years ago especially given there is no direct connection between their civilizations.

    The depopulation process has already begun & been brought into fruition since post WW2 but in full swing since the 1980s under the so called “free markets” which as you know is the monopolization of them. Through this monopolization they have gained absolute economic dominance.

    Our water & food supply are constantly & deliberately tainted and the environment being deliberately trashed. You see GM food was never to feed a hungry world it was designed to kill it, 42 years after its release the world is still hungry, we could always produce 1.5x the food we needed but the will was never their to do it. Why would they add the Ecoli genome to foodcrops, for our nutrition no doubt??
    Cancer rates now 1 in 2 but interestingly what was it before the release of GM!
    The Pharmaceutical industry feeds off this sickness then profits on making us sicker, the flow of capital from one industry to another whilst killing us is quite clever when you think they are using our own money to do it.
    This is only the tip of the iceberg there are to numerous to post on here, but now comes the time of the pretenders after the crash of the monetary system & of course the false flag terrorist events and draconian legislation that follows all in the name of protecting us. The apathy of the general public will be our demise & there will be great bloodshed to come.

    I would prefer the message of “George Carlins greatest moment” to get the mind ticking cause at least there is humour there, utube it.

    Godspeed & keep well JG.

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