Reports this morning suggest the controversial data retention and national security powers have been “stalled” to after the next election.
The Attorney General’s discussion paper is, certainly, going to a parliamentary committee. But that was always the intention, as this piece from July made plain. So what has been stalled?
Rather, the reports seem to be based around complaints from an anonymous senior national security official that the government isn’t just stamping the data retention laws into effect.
Senior intelligence officials, who have been pushing for the increased powers, complain the legislation will be delayed until after the election due next year.
Yes, sometimes allowing parliament – the democratic representatives of Australian citizens – to scrutinize potentially freedom-restricting law can be time-consuming. And sometimes democracies have elections. That might be frustrating for a bureaucracy that would like more power now. But it is exactly how the system is supposed to work.
And the system gives the public an opportunity to articulate why the data retention policy is so bad. Is it so cynical to suggest that this opportunity is what has so frustrated our senior national security official?