When it comes to metadata, we can strike the right kind of balance. We can protect Australians and also protect our rights as Australians.
In a dangerous world, protecting the safety of Australians is rightly judged to be the first responsibility of government.
But government also has a responsibility to protect what it means to be Australian – including our right to privacy and to due legal process.
The challenge for law-makers is to strike the right balance: balance between privacy and security, between transparency and strength, and between the power of government and the rights of citizens.
The Government’s data retention laws do not strike the right balance and neither does Labor’s support of these laws.
Our lives, our personal relationships and our work are now mediated by smart phones and other digital tools.
These tools create billions of personal records. When aggregated - our metadata - records and potentially reveals the details of our personal lives.
Proponents of metadata retention say those who do nothing wrong have nothing to fear, but these laws help create a culture of fear.
A culture where we are all under suspicion and subject to heightened mass surveillance.
Where some government agencies don’t require a warrant to investigate alleged wrongdoing.
We do not need laws that give access to our metadata to over 20 government agencies, some of which have tenuous responsibility for national security if any.
We don’t need laws that empower the Attorney General to add more agencies to that list, on a whim, and forever expand the government's access to our digital lives.
And we don’t need flawed laws that demand Australians sacrifice their privacy supposedly for the sake of security.
This amendment commits us to review these laws and - I hope - find a better balance.
I hope that review will see us always require a warrant to investigate individuals and protect our right to due legal process.
I hope that review will restrict access to criminal law enforcement agencies, limit access to investigations ONLY involving serious criminal offences or threats to national security.
And I hope that review will bestow strength, preserve transparency and accountability - that we remove fear and restore trust through this process.
It’s been said that we’re facing the death of privacy; that privacy equals secrecy and danger.
But those of us here today must remember that the right to privacy is not a natural right. It was hard won and like all rights, comes with responsibilities. The need to act as good citizens extends to our digital life, too. Those who do the wrong thing must be caught and punished.
But the right to privacy is also a right the government has a duty to uphold.
And we certainly shouldn't be handing over the keys of our lives to this government!
Labor is the ONLY party that can get this right.
We can strike the right kind of balance. We can protect Australians and also protect our rights as Australians.