Government must explain what it knew about AFP breach

Today’s admission that the Australian Federal Police illegally accessed the metadata of a journalist is shocking.

THE HON MARK DREYFUS QC MP

SHADOW ATTORNEY-GENERAL

SHADOW MINISTER FOR NATIONAL SECURITY

MEMBER FOR ISAACS

 

CLARE O’NEIL MP
SHADOW MINISTER FOR JUSTICE
MEMBER FOR HOTHAM

 

GOVERNMENT MUST EXPLAIN WHAT IT KNEW ABOUT AFP BREACH

 

Today’s admission that the Australian Federal Police illegally accessed the metadata of a journalist is shocking.

 

While it is good that the AFP self-reported the breach, the fact that it happened at all is clearly unacceptable.

 

The special requirements in the Telecommunications Interception Act for journalists are there because of the unique place the media holds in our democracy. These measures must only be used in the most serious of circumstances, which is why a warrant is required.

 

Justice Minister Michael Keenan, the minister in charge of the AFP, and Attorney-General George Brandis, the minister in charge of the relevant Act, cannot handball this to the AFP.

 

Both ministers must explain – when were they notified of the breach, and what immediate action did they take? Is there a legitimate reason for the public announcement being made two days after the breach was reported to the Ombudsman?

 

Above all, the Government must explain what it is doing to ensure such a breach never happens again.

 

This legislation was passed by Parliament with the assurance that the system had strong safeguards and could be trusted. That trust has now been breached.

 

Mr Keenan and Senator Brandis must give a full explanation of their involvement in this issue, and they must do so without delay.
 

FRIDAY, 28 APRIL 2017