When Attorney-General Roxon handballed the issue of data retention to the Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security last year, she was looking for political cover. This was legislation her department had – we later learnt – already begun preparing, after an extensive industry consultation process. Rather than taking a decision to press ahead, Roxon invited the committee to conduct an inquiry into the proposal and offer its own view, in effect outsourcing the decision.

A year later, the Committee has declined her invitation and handballed the issue right back to the government and Roxon’s successor, Mark Dreyfus: if the government wants data retention, the committee says, then here is a model of what a scheme should look like -- but it’s a decision for government.