Heavily armed policeman

On the chaotic final sitting day of parliament a fortnight ago, the Morrison government got its wish. It pushed through a broad, sweeping law that would give state security agencies power to read people’s encrypted messages, despite serious reservations from the tech industry, and some occasional, muted noises of discomfort from Labor.

The encryption laws represent the latest piece of Australia’s post-9/11 legislative puzzle. In the aftermath of the September 11 attacks, western nations scrambled to deal with the spectre of terrorism, drawing up new laws on the fly and expanding the powers of state security agencies. But since then, such expansive national security laws have become the new normal in Australia, leading to a steady erosion of civil liberties.