Well this is a little off-colour: in the wake of attacks in Paris that saw the murder of 12 Charlie Hedbo staffers and four hostages, and a so-called ‘lone-wolf’ attack in Sydney that left two people dead a few weeks ago, Attorney General George Brandis is using terror as a platform to push the government’s data retention laws in an opinion piece this morning.
In an op-ed for The Australian today, AG Brandis writes (quite rightly) that we live in an age of terror, writing that the Western world faces a “profound threat that is likely to be with us for a long time”.
He then moves into a series of chest-beating paragraphs that outline the broad national security Bills that made it through Parliament last year, before arriving at the metadata Bill.
If you recall correctly, the controversial Bill was hurriedly introduced into Parliament last year to the ire of the Opposition and the Greens, who managed to stall the legislation until a broad debate could be had.
In his morning op-ed Brandis referring to metadata entitled “one more anti-terror tool”, re-iterated his point that telcos wouldn’t need to collect any additional data in the program. Brandis also wrote how data retention is critical to keeping people safe, but added that nothing can provide an “absolute guarantee” against terror attacks:
Discussions are being undertaken between the government and industry to deal with the definition of the dataset and cost. Former ASIO director-general David Irvine has described the capacity of agencies to access metadata as “absolutely crucial” in identifying terrorist networks and protecting the public.
Of course, the best-resourced agencies, the sincerest community engagement and the most carefully written laws cannot provide an absolute guarantee against a terrorist outrage — as the events at Martin Place tragically demonstrated — particularly in the case of “lone wolf” actors, who may not be active within a network. Nevertheless, the public can be reassured that the government has taken, and will take, all appropriate steps to protect our safety and freedom.
Am I the only one who thinks that it’s a bit off that Brandis would jump on the terror events in Paris and Martin Place to push his party’s shiny new Bill before invalidating it by saying giving up our privacy won’t keep us absolutely safe? Save it, Attorney General.
You can read the slightly obnoxious op-ed here.