Jenny Leong MP Condemns the Governments Attacks on Privacy

Jenny Leong MP, Member for Newtown has condemned legislation from the Liberal/Nationals that allows the licence photos and personal information of regular citizens to be shared with public and private law enforcement agencies.


Ms JENNY LEONG (Newtown) (11:08:3): I speak on behalf of The Greens on the Surveillance Devices Amendment (Statutory Review) Bill 2018 and cognate bills before the House. I note that they are different bills so I will address them individually. I appreciate and understand there will be an opportunity to attempt to separate the vote on the bills so we can recognise that while they have been introduced as cognate bills, they are very different in their scope and in what they are trying to do. It is important for us to have the chance to express our views and votes about these matters individually.

The Greens are supportive of the Surveillance Devices Amendment (Statutory Review) Bill and recognise the changes that are being made to the operation of the surveillance devices scheme following the report of Operation Prospect and the statutory review of the scheme. The changes include the appointment of a Surveillance Devices Commissioner and an explicit objective that the surveillance devices scheme is intended to provide law enforcement with a comprehensive framework to balance criminal investigation with individual privacy. It makes a range of changes to the surveillance devices scheme which The Greens believe are sensible and should work to correct some of the defects identified in the Operation Prospect report. In particular, it is positive to note the recognition within the objects of the bill that the privacy of the individual is an important factor that the scheme must consider. We note that many of the recommendations of the Prospect inquiry related to apologies that were owed to the people who were the subject of illegal bugging. It should not have taken so long to get light cast onto this issue. It took too long for the Government and police to recognise that a full public inquiry was required. It took too long for the Operation Prospect report to be released. The Greens support the bill.

I turn to two concerning changes before the House today in both the Road Transport Amendment (National Facial Biometric Matching Capability) Bill 2018 and the Terrorism (Police Powers) Amendment (Statutory Review) Bill 2018. Briefly, the Terrorism (Police Powers) Amendment (Statutory Review) Bill 2018 aims to amend the Terrorism (Police Powers) Act 2002 to make minor amendments to the scheme following the statutory review of the Act. The bill makes changes including requiring annual reporting on the exercising of powers and a range of other changes. The Greens oppose the bill for the simple reason that we oppose the scheme. The amendments contained in the bill do not change the fact that the scheme is in substantial breach of human rights standards and should not be on the books in New South Wales. It is unacceptable that as a response to tragic incidents of terrorism the freedoms and rights of individuals in this State are undermined. It is unacceptable to use the tragedies that have occurred and the terrorism that has taken place to curve back on the things that we value about our community and our society.

We should not be collectively punished and have our rights removed because of these issues. The Crimes Act already deals with terrorist acts and other similar issues. We should take an approach that respects the human rights of the individuals living in this State. The fervent desire by those on the conservative side of politics to sacrifice freedom of speech, freedom of political association and freedom from arbitrary detention and other injustices in the name of terrorism should concern all of us. The bill once again extends the sunset clause for this scheme. We have done some research on the use of these clauses. It will come as little surprise to anyone who knows how law and order and politics works that the sun never sets. It might set at the end of the day, but when it comes to sunset clauses in terrorism legislation, the sun never sets. Sunset clauses on terrorism or similar bills are never removed from the statute books. We see continual reviews and changes and the continual winding back of people's human rights and civil liberties. Laws that have massive impacts on people's liberties and rights are put in place with sunset clauses to offer some protection to the public and it is important that those sunset clauses are seen as such and enacted. For this reason The Greens absolutely oppose the Terrorism (Police Powers) Amendment (Statutory Review) Bill. As I said at the start, we oppose the scheme. We do not believe in the idea of continually increasing sunset clauses on such pieces of legislation. We do not agree with the bill and we do not believe it is necessary.

I turn to the Road Transport Amendment (National Facial Biometric Matching Capability) Bill. If ever we were fearful about the reach of the home affairs Minister, the Border Force man himself Peter Dutton, stretching his powers further into the State of New South Wales, this bill realises that fear. Anybody in New South Wales who has a driver licence will have their licence photos and associated personal information contributed to this database. It is worth noting that when people provided their information and images to the Government they were not aware of the possible future uses of that information. This will include a person's name, date of birth, gender, recorded address and passport information, and it seems likely the system will be expanded to include all digital facial images issued by government agencies. Under the scheme, Commonwealth, State and Territory agencies that hold facial images will share those images when requested. The requesting agencies can use the Facial Verification Service to verify someone's identity with or without consent. Authorised law enforcement agencies can access the capability for law enforcement, national security and community safety.

Both Victoria and the Australian Capital Territory have rejected these laws as going well beyond the 2017 agreement. This scheme is not limited to serious law enforcement functions but simply requires agencies to have a "legislative basis" upon which they can access the data. Currently defined uses include using the scheme to identify people who are suspects or victims of terrorist or other criminal activity; to prevent the use of fake or stolen identities; and for the purposes of protective security, community safety, road safety and identity verification. Discretion to expand who can access the scheme is held by none other than Peter Dutton, the home affairs Minister, and is not required to be considered by Parliament. When I had my driver licence photo taken I did not sign off on any permission for Peter Dutton to have access to my images or my personal details or to use it for whatever he sees fit.

Databases like this are globally viewed as being part of the development of mass surveillance of the population, with concerning implications for political freedom and democracy. Previous schemes proposed for national identity schemes were strongly opposed by the public, with both the Australia Card and the Access Card being withdrawn following public condemnation. This scheme is essentially implementing such a database by stealth, through the back door, with Peter Dutton pulling the strings of the Liberal-Nationals puppets in New South Wales who are falling into step with a home affairs Minister—

Mr Andrew Constance: Point of order: I generally do not like doing this but I draw your attention, Mr Temporary Speaker, to the fact that the speech of the member for Newtown is well and truly outside the leave of the bill, including her suggestion that the Government is doing this other than in the interests of the community, and something about Peter Dutton and all this other stuff that is being alluded to. I ask that the member's attention be drawn back to the bill, which is where it should be.

TEMPORARY SPEAKER (Mr Lee Evans): Although debate is wideranging, I draw the member for Newtown back to the leave of the bill.

Ms JENNY LEONG: To the point of order: My understanding is that this is exactly about Peter Dutton because he is the Minister for Home Affairs and the bill is introducing an agreement between the State, Territory and Federal governments which will allow the home affairs Minister to access this information. It is completely relevant to the content of the bill. Should I continue?

TEMPORARY SPEAKER (Mr Lee Evans): The member may continue.

Ms JENNY LEONG: Many people attending public protests already find themselves filmed by police cameras. The potential that this footage is being immediately matched in a Federal database is frightening. It is chilling to think that getting a driver licence and being filmed by police could create a situation in which a person is monitored and checked. Thousands of requests for metadata from government agencies every day are being made under existing legislation. Adding facial recognition to the mix will further erode our rights to privacy and protection from government overreach. Like this scheme, the metadata scheme was originally limited to a small number of police and intelligence agencies but over the years it has expanded. It is currently unknown how many agencies have accessed data under the scheme.

The Government is trying to sneak this one past the public by saying it is linked to terrorism and adding it as part of a set of cognate bills before this House. I wonder if members of this place have looked in detail at what they are signing off, which is an Australia Card or an Access Card equivalent that hands over all the information and photos of the people of New South Wales to the home affairs Minister, Peter Dutton, to do with as he wishes. The Greens absolutely oppose the bill and reject the manner in which the Government is doing this by stealth.

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